The upcoming visit of the Houston Texans Sunday evokes a smile from David Reed, who – as a rookie last season – returned a kickoff 103 yards for his first career touchdown in the Ravens’ 34-28 overtime win against the Texans on Dec. 13.
“Yeah, of course, that’s a good memory,” Reed said. “That was my rookie year, my first touchdown. Hopefully, I can just build on that and have a great game and have a great week of practice.”
It’s one of the few positive memories for Reed, a fifth-round draft pick whose two years in the NFL have been dogged by injuries and off-field issues.
Reed led the NFL with a 29.3-yard kick return average, but missed the team’s final two regular-season and two playoff games due to torn ligaments in his left wrist. Prior to the injury, police investigated his apartment for “possible narcotics.”
After serving a one-game suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy, Reed returned to average 41.3 yards on three kick returns in a Week 2 loss to the Tennessee Titans. He returned a kick 77 yards, but suffered a left shoulder strain that forced him to sit out the team’s next two games.
In his absence, rookie wide receivers Torrey Smith and LaQuan Williams have moved past Reed on the depth chart. Reed, who has yet to catch a pass for the Ravens, acknowledged that he has much ground to gain.
“I feel like I’m coming in and starting over,” he said. “The young guys have been making plays since I’ve been gone. They definitely deserve to be where they’re at, and all I can do is just try to contribute to their success as much as I can. I just want to bring whatever I can to the offense.”
Returning to the field on Sunday will be the first step. Reed said he will probably wear some extra padding to protect the shoulder, but he said it made considerable progress during the team’s bye week.
“It feels a lot better than it used to,” Reed said. “I can do anything I want with it now. It’s still a little sore and everything, but it’s good to go.”