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OWINGS MILLS - The NFL announced Monday that Ravens safety Ed Reed has been suspended for one game without pay for repeated violations of the league's player safety rules that prohibit hits to the head and neck area of defenseless players.

Reed was flagged for a personal foul following a hit to the head of Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders during the third quarter of Baltimore's win against Pittsburgh Sunday night.

The violation was Reed's third in the last three years and second this season, although Ravens coach John Harbaugh called each of the hits "inadvertent" and said he was "very surprised" by the suspension.

Reed informed the team that he plans to appeal the suspension immediately and Harbaugh said he expects the NFL to make a decision on the appeal by Wednesday.

"We all know Ed respects the game," Harbaugh said. "He respects his fellow players. ... He's got a good heart. He's got tremendous respect for the game, and we stand behind him in that respect as a team and an organization."

Reed has 40 tackles and three interceptions this season.

Baltimore plays the Chargers Sunday. San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers is tied for fifth in the AFC in touchdown passes (17).

Rivers was 17-of-23 for 270 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions in guiding the Chargers to a 34-14 victory against the Ravens last season.

If Reed can't play, James Ihedigo will likely start in his place.

"It's like losing other guys. It's going to be a factor," Harbaugh said. "If we don't have Ed, that's a blow. That'll be something that hurts us on defense. But once again, someone's going to have to step up and play really well."

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