Even if safety Ed Reed had returned a punt for a touchdown rather than fumble one of his three attempts in Sunday's 17-10 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, there still would be no debate.
Reed, apparently, is not in the running to unseat Lamont Brightful as the team's primary punt returner. The only reason he had chances Sunday was because of a third-quarter concussion suffered by Brightful.
The team expects Brightful to be healthy for the Oct. 12 game at Arizona.
"I don't want Ed or Chris [McAlister] returning punts," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "But Ed is our best fielder of a punt once Bright goes down. He did a nice job with the one. The other one, again not being back there on a consistent basis, when you are coming up on a punt, it's hard to handle. He's got to work with that a little bit."
Reed returned his first punt as a Raven 13 yards to the Chiefs' 44 early in the fourth quarter. That play helped set up the Ravens' only touchdown drive.
Brian Barker's next punt to Reed was far shorter, and the ball slipped off his fingers as he was running up to make the catch.
"[Barker] was hitting them pretty good," Reed said. "But I muffed the ball."
Reed fielded his last punt with defenders all around him and was tackled immediately for no gain.
Despite Reed's tendency to make big plays as a safety, Billick fears a possible injury.
"As soon as I put him back there on a regular basis and he gets hurt, then you are going to be on me for having him in there anyway," Billick said. "So pick your poison."
Drawing the line
The Ravens played five offensive linemen the entire game for the first time this season. Right tackle Orlando Brown started for the first time in 3 1/2 years and will likely no longer rotate quarters with Ethan Brooks.
Left guard Edwin Mulitalo returned from ankle and knee injuries that forced him out of the previous game.
"I feel good overall," Mulitalo said. "I'm about 85 percent. I feel like I'm a step behind. This bye week is going to be good for me."
In holding pattern
Watching the game film produced no more clarification for Billick of tight end Terry Jones' holding penalty.
Jones' penalty negated a 1-yard Jamal Lewis touchdown run and pushed the Ravens back to the Chiefs' 11 on the first possession of the second half. So was it legitimate?
"I'm sure it is," said Billick, whose team had to settle for a Matt Stover field goal. "I'm still trying to find the film angle that shows it. I'm sure there is a head cam on a linebacker that shows it. But it was called."
Receiver Frank Sanders is keeping his bye week plans private and urging his teammates to do so, too.
Players do not have to report back to the team complex until Sunday.
"With the random acts of robberies that's been happening with the players, we can't tell you guys what's going on," Sanders said. "So everybody is going to be in town this week, so don't try anything."
Only one game separates the teams in the AFC North, but that did not stop Billick from congratulating one of his former coaches.
"I want to congratulate Marvin on his first win as a head coach," Billick said. "I'm darn sure he is standing before his team and saying, 'Guys we're one game out. Keep fighting.' "
Mulitalo played host to his first annual luau last night at Jillian's as a fund-raiser for his "Big Ed's Band Foundation" and city music programs. ... Billick will be a guest on ESPN's NFL Matchup, where he will break down film. "I'll go up there and visit with them," Billick said. "I can think of worse ways to spend my time than to go up and spend six hours looking at film around the league."
Next for Ravens
Matchup: Ravens (2-2) vs. Arizona Cardinals (1-3)
Site: Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Ariz.
When: Oct. 12, 4:15 p.m.
TV/Radio: Ch. 13/WJFK (1300 AM), WQSR (102.7 FM)