If health is a relative condition, then Ravens safety Ed Reed is relatively healthy. Or healthy enough to suit up each week, at least, and create chaos in the secondary.
But the nerve impingement issue he has in his neck and shoulder appears to be worsening. Reed said Wednesday that he has more pain with the injury this season, that he sees his doctor every week and that he continues to take anti-inflammatory medication for it.
Still, he says, it hasn't affected his play "that much." Neither was it responsible for several attempted arm tackles in a loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, he added.
"If there's a point that I come to where it's hurting me that bad and I don't feel like I can be beneficial to the team on Sunday, then that's when ... I don't need to be playing because I'm going to take away from what we're trying to do," Reed said. "Until I feel that way, I'm going to be out there trying to help."
Reed missed three arm tackles Sunday - twice against Laveranues Coles - although he did make five tackles in the game. He did not appear on the team's injury list last week.
"That's technique, bad angle, not getting your head across" the ball carrier, Reed said. "That's the first thing you learn as a little kid, how to tackle. One, I was going for the ball and he had the ball right there [at arm's length]. You've got to secure the tackle, versus go for the ball first. It really had nothing to do with pain."
Coach John Harbaugh said at his weekly news conference Monday that Reed has "tackled very well this year, up until this [Cincinnati] game."
"I'm sure he's disappointed with those three tackles. Those three tackles are tackles you normally see him make," said Harbaugh, who did not meet with the media Wednesday. "Obviously, the hit against Denver was as good a tackle as you're ever going to see. From my understanding, the neck is as good as it's been in two years, but I think it's a factor. But it's not a dangerous-type thing where he's at risk, or he wouldn't be playing."
Reed, 31 and an eight-year veteran, acknowledged that he has experienced more pain this season. "And when I did have those pains, I didn't practice a couple times because of it," he said. "I've just got to stay up on my rehab and strengthening it."
Reed had the problem coming into training camp a year ago and missed virtually all of training camp. Nevertheless, he had one of his best seasons, with nine interceptions and one forced fumble.
On a defense desperate for big plays, Reed continues to deliver this season. Through eight games, he is responsible for five of the team's 11 takeaways (two interceptions, three forced fumbles). He said he tries not to think about the injury.
"You try to be smarter about what you're doing," he said "It isn't about arm-tackling. You try not to put your head in there, which you're not supposed to anyway. I see sometimes when I'm doing that, so I might put myself at risk more than anything."
Reed said he won't make any decisions about the future until after the season.
"Coming into this year, not knowing how my injury was, knowing I had more pain than I had in the past, I was taking it one year at a time," he said. "I was not going to come into the season worrying about it and not give my all. My main thing was, look, come into the season, give your all and see how it feels. ... Assess it every week, every day, see how it's feeling. It's been holding up enough to where I can be effective."