It had been a long time since David Reed had done something productive on the football field. It had been even longer since the last time he did something on offense.
But in Sunday’s 34-17 loss to the Denver Broncos, the wide receiver and return specialist caught both balls thrown in his direction – one for 12 yards in the third quarter and the other for 10 yards in the final frame.
The receptions were Reed’s first since the Ravens selected him in the fifth round of the NFL draft in 2010. Reed was in the contest because starter Torrey Smith had left earlier in the third quarter after suffering a concussion, but after the game, he expressed his gratitude at getting another opportunity.
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“It’s been a while,” he said. “I feel very thankful and blessed. I’m just sorry about the situation it was in, but I’m very thankful and very grateful. Time to build on that.”
Reed had shown promise in his rookie campaign, leading the league in kick return average (29.3 yards) and posting what was at the time a franchise-record 103-yard return for a touchdown in a 34-28 overtime win against the Houston Texans on Dec. 13.
But Reed has been plagued by injuries. He sat out the final two regular-season games and two playoff contests in 2010 with torn ligaments in his left wrist, and he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee against the Cleveland Browns on Christmas Eve of last year. He also served a one-game suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy.
Reed wasn’t activated from the physically-unable-to-perform list until Nov. 26 and by then, his job had been given to Jacoby Jones, who has returned two kickoffs (including a NFL record-tying 108-yard return) and one punt for scores this season.
Reed got the most extensive playing time of his career Sunday and said he had the tired legs to prove it.
“I played a lot of snaps, a lot of special teams. I was dead tired by the time I got to offense,” he said. “My legs felt like rubber, but I just feel overwhelmed with gratefulness. God is so good to me. I’ve been on a long road, and it’s been a long time. Just to go out and do that is a really good sign.”
Reed may return to the bench if Smith can pass tests related to the concussion in time for Sunday’s game against the New York Giants. Even so, Reed is hoping that he did enough against the Broncos to warrant some consideration from the coaching staff.
“I think they might, and I hope they do,” he said. “I’m just trying to build from here.”