Open competition for kick returns

David Reed was healthy and active for the first time since sustaining a left shoulder strain on Sept. 18, but the NFL leader in kick return average last season didn’t get the nod to assume that duty Sunday.

Instead, that honor went to Bryan McCann, who totaled 53 yards on two returns in the Ravens’ 29-14 win against the Houston Texans.

McCann, who had been signed by the team to a two-year contract on Oct. 4, was expected to back up Reed, but coach John Harbaugh acknowledged that lingering concerns about the strength and health of Reed’s shoulder persuaded the coaching staff to go with McCann.

“David could’ve gone, I think, but since we had Bryan, he practiced all week, and David was coming off the shoulder,” Harbaugh said Monday during his weekly news conference. “We didn’t want to jeopardize him if we didn’t have to. I think it’ll be a good competition between those two guys. We’ll just put them both out there in practice and in games and see who can earn the job, ultimately. But it’s good to have two guys that can go back there and do that. We’ll also have LaQuan [Williams], too.”

Reed led the league with a 29.3-yard average last season as a rookie, which included a 103-yard return for a touchdown against the Texans on Dec. 13. He currently leads the team with a 41.7-yard average on three returns.

McCann averaged 22.2 yards on 24 kick returns in two abbreviated seasons with the Dallas Cowboys.  His first return as a Raven yielded 26 yards and could’ve gone for more, according to Harbaugh.

“He had the kickoff return where he busted it up in there,” Harbaugh said. “But we got caught on the backside a little bit there and got knocked off. I thought he showed some good acceleration up in the hole there.”

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