Reed avidly studies game tape, spending countless hours in darkened rooms watching opponents to glean tips and derive detailed scouting reports.
At this stage of his career, the Louisiana native is relying on all of his knowledge to get the job done.
"Unfortunately, that happens to all of us," said former Jacksonville Jaguars All-Pro offensive tackle Tony Boselli, who's called Ravens games for Dial Global Sports radio. "The mind is trying to tell the body what to do, but the body doesn't listen. That's part of getting older, but Ed's still an outstanding player who has great value in the secondary. He just can't do the things he once did."
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Peyton Manning was the quarterback who lobbed the football past Reed and cornerback Cary Williams to hit Decker in stride for a touchdown during a Dec. 16 game at M&T Bank Stadium.
And Manning remains assured that Reed is still on top of his game.
"He is the best safety in the league, and has been really for this past decade," Manning said. "Shoot, you can kind of go on and on: unbelievable ball skills, unbelievable range, great hands. You can tell what kind of athlete he is because of what he's done once he's got the ball in his hands, returning them for touchdowns. Smart player, the list goes on and on."
Although Reed has piled up 661 career tackles, 61 interceptions, six sacks, a dozen forced fumbles and 10 fumble recoveries with a total of 14 touchdowns, he insists he still has unfinished business ahead of him.
Reed indicated that he isn't thinking about walking away from the game.
"Not even thinking about that right now, not even talking about that right now," Reed said. "That's not my concern. I know physically I feel like I can play, but also physically I have concerns for my life after football."
According to two sources, Reed was fined $55,000 on Thursday for an illegal hit on wide receiver Victor Cruz during the Ravens' 33-14 win over the New York Giants. Reed led with his shoulder and made glancing contact with Cruz's facemask, but he was punished for unnecessary roughness for striking a defenseless player in the helmet and neck area.
Reed was initially suspended by the league for one game without pay earlier this season for his illegal hit on Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders. One day later, the suspension was overturned and replaced with a $50,000 fine.
"It's an interesting situation," Reed said Thursday prior to learning of the fine. "I just play the game. I let them make those decisions."
Besides having to adjust to changes to the NFL rulebook with the league's renewed emphasis on player safety, Reed is having to work harder every offseason to do preventative maintenance on his battle-scarred body.
That's what he credits for his longevity, along with the guidance of Ravens inside linebacker Ray Lewis.
"My work ethic has been probably the biggest thing I can attribute that to," Reed said. "Growing up watching Michael Jordan, knowing what he had to go through, knowing who I idol myself after, having friends like Ray when I came into this game, to have the older guys take you under their wing and talk professionalism with you. It's been just a blessing to come this far. ...
"The ailments I have to deal with as a player, for me to play all 16 games, I'm doing what I was supposed to do with my doctor in the offseason and maintaining myself. I'm doing the right things physically. It's something I take pride in. I'm glad my body is holding up and bouncing back with the ailments I have right now."
The Ravens will have several important decisions to make after the season, among them is what to do about Reed.
The Ravens broached the idea of a contract extension for Reed last year, but talks went nowhere because Reed doesn't have an agent after firing his last representative. Talks are still nonexistent as Reed waits to hire an agent at some point after the season.
If the Ravens sign quarterback Joe Flacco to a long-term deal and don't have to use a $14.6 million franchise tag to hold onto him, they could retain Reed by making him their franchise player at a cost of $6.798 million.
It's unclear how Reed would react to being franchised, but it's unlikely he would be happy about that development.
"Ed's meant a lot to that team," Casserly said. "Whether he comes back next year will depend on what he wants for money. Most of the time it's not an advantage talking to the player without an agent. It can be too delicate to discuss the player's performance. Sometimes, that can be tough."
Reed — regarded as a lock to be named to the Hall of Fame one day — was adamant that he's not thinking about his contract or his legacy.
"I try not to think about that because that's down the line," Reed said. "It's nothing when you're on the field like there's a bubble over your head that says, 'He's a Hall of Famer, don't throw his way,' even though it's kind of there. There's nothing you can take to the football field at any given moment that gives you that respect that guys won't come your way or jump over you."