Carroll County Times
Carroll County

Ed Reed missing from first day of minicamp

OWINGS MILLS - As the Baltimore Ravens' defense broke the huddle Tuesday afternoon, there was a noticeably leaner Ray Lewis lining up at his traditional middle linebacker spot.

And there was an extremely conspicuous absence in the secondary as a famous bearded defensive star was nowhere to be found.

Pro Bowl free safety Ed Reed skipped the first day of the Ravens' mandatory minicamp, a move that could bring a fine under the NFL collective bargaining agreement for an unexcused absence.

Reed can be fined up to $63,000 if he misses all three days of practices and an additional $9,915 for missing a team physical, all at the Ravens' discretion.

And Reed apparently hasn't spoken with coach John Harbaugh. Meanwhile, Lewis indicated that an infant son may be occupying Reed's time.

"I have not communicated with Ed," Harbaugh said. "So, I'm not sure what the situation is on that."

When asked if he was concerned with Reed being a no-show, Harbaugh implied that Reed will be fined: "The CBA applies, and I haven't talked to him."

Reed has indicated several times this offseason that he's conflicted about splitting his time between his family and football, saying in one interview that he's not 100 percent committed to playing this season.

Reed later backtracked on that statement and stated he will continue to play.

"It's not about retirement, it's about my focus in the offseason, health, family and football," said Reed, who has battled hip, neck and shoulder injuries in recent years. "This is the time of year where players think through things. My goal is to play football in the years to come."

Reed, 33, has denied that any unhappiness stems from his contract situation even though it's no secret that he wants a new deal.

Reed is due $7.2 million as he enters the final year of a six-year, $44.5 million contract. However, Reed has no agent currently representing him for contract negotiations or to operate as a buffer between him and team management.

Despite the apparent disconnect between Reed and the organization, Lewis downplayed the situation and predicted that Reed will ultimately rejoin his teammates for training camp.

"Whatever him and coach and them have talked about, they have talked about and I don't think it's an issue at all," Lewis said. "Ed has other things going on, a baby boy, and he is really trying to focus on things like that. Sometimes, life calls you away from the game.

"These three days won't take away from where Ed Reed's focus is and that is to come back in and help our defense be the best defense there is in football. So, I don't think it is an issue at all. Not for us, not for us."

While Harbaugh indicated he hasn't talked with Reed, Lewis said he remains in frequent contact with his old friend and defensive colleague.

"Absolutely, I talked to him," Lewis said. "I talk to Ed all the time, and I don't expect anything different. Ed is Ed. When July 25 comes on, Ed will be here and we will be getting ready to roll."

Although he's four years older than Reed, Lewis is in a much different place with the defending AFC North champions.

Lewis, 37, seems assured of his future with the franchise given his rapport with general manager Ozzie Newsome and owner Steve Bisciotti and he's not focused on when he'll step away from the game when the topic of wide receiver Derrick Mason's retirement was broached.

"Being here in Baltimore for now 17 years, it's a different energy," Lewis said. "So, you never really think about, 'Oh, when's it going to come?' If I'm trading teams here and there, OK, my window could be closing.

"For me, the relationship that me, Ozzie and Steve have, and the relationship I have with my body is, go as long as you can go. And so that thought process never really comes up. Whenever it happens, it happens, but it's definitely nothing I think about."

What has consumed Lewis' thoughts this offseason is getting in optimal condition.

The 6-foot-1, 250-pounder has been involved in a training regimen of bicycle riding and swimming, and he looked trim and quick on the practice field Tuesday.

Despite missing four games with a toe injury last season, Lewis led the Ravens with 95 tackles and also recorded two sacks, two forced fumbles and one interception.

Lewis said he's simply making adjustments to a sport based heavily on speed and less on brawn with the passing game becoming so prevalent around the NFL.

"Anytime you come back in your 17th year, you kind of want to come back with a different mentality and different thinking," Lewis said. "My mentality was change with the game. There's no more true, true, true, physical, physical fullbacks that are going to come at me and sledgehammer all day. Everything is about mismatches now. Everything is about speed and about running and trying to get smaller people on the field.

"So, just adjust to the game. As you see guys get older in their careers, you see a lot of people don't do that. That was my thing this year. It was like, 'All right, the game is changing like that. Everybody wants to go with these little five-wides and all this different stuff.' Just change with the game, and that was kind of my thought process."