If Reed is Reed, it'll be big boost for Ravens

News item: All-Pro safety Ed Reed is practicing again and could soon be back in the Ravens' starting lineup.

My take: We'll have to wait and see if he's the same guy who terrorized opposing quarterbacks before hip surgery, but if he is, getting him back is the defensive equivalent of the Vikings re-acquiring Randy Moss in the middle of the season.

News item: The Ravens get a soft draw Sunday when the winless Buffalo Bills visit M&T Bank Stadium.

My take: There are two ways this can go. The Ravens could let down after a torturous six-game stretch that included four road games against potential playoff teams and keep the Bills around for a few quarters, or they could take out a week's worth of post- Patriots frustration and pound the Bills into complete submission.

Bonus take: I'm going to go with the second option. I think the Ravens might crack 40.

News item: Buck Showalter was back in town this week for meetings with Andy MacPhail and Orioles owner Peter Angelos.

My take: I'd like to be a fly on the wall when they talk about the free agent market, but they'd definitely notice a 220-pound fly with a notepad and clam right up.

News item: The NFL announced Tuesday that players delivering malicious helmet-to-helmet hits would be subject to immediate suspension. Then league officials chose to levy only a large fine on Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather for a vicious hit on Todd Heap that seemed to meet all the requirements for suspension.

My take: If you were surprised by that, you haven't been paying attention. The league has been sending out mixed messages on player safety for quite a while now, but this is still a big step in the right direction.

Related news item: Steelers linebacker James Harrison took a day off this week to ponder retirement because of the league's stricter enforcement of rules regarding dangerous hits, but was back at practice Thursday.

My take: Yeah, right. He's going to walk away from a $51 million contract because of a $75,000 fine. Here's an idea. How about he takes a leave of absence during Week 13 and we'll call it even.

News item: NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson has sold his stake in the Los Angeles Lakers as well as his string of Starbucks franchises, which should bring him an estimated $100 million, and said this week that he would love to see the NFL return to Los Angeles.

My take: Do they even have Mayflower trucks in Jacksonville?

News item: The Chicago Cubs passed over Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg to extend the contract of interim manager Mike Quade, who led the team to a 24-13 turnaround over the final six weeks of the season.

My take: By the time this decision was made, there was no decision to make. Quade got his foot in the door, then slammed it in Sandberg's face.

News item: The Oregon Ducks celebrated their elevation to No. 1 in the two major college football polls by crushing UCLA, 60-13, on national television Thursday night.

My take: Oregon and Boise State are solidly ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the Associated Press Top 25 and USA Today Coaches Poll, but if the BCS championship game were held this weekend, the Ducks would play top-ranked Oklahoma, which is why this is such a great system.

News item: Tennessee Titans coach Jeff Fisher revealed after Monday Night's lopsided victory over Jacksonville that he and Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio were asked to use their timeouts at the end of the game because ESPN needed to air more commercial breaks.

My take: I know this has sparked some controversy over the Worldwide Leader's alleged attempt to control the actual play on the field for commercial purposes, but I had absolutely no problem with it. I was far more concerned with the network forcing me to watch the Titans and Jaguars.

peter.schmuck@baltsun.com

Listen to Peter Schmuck on WBAL (1090 AM) at noon Fridays and Saturdays and at 6 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays with Brett Hollander. Also, check out his blog, "The Schmuck Stops Here," at baltimoresun.com/schmuckblog.

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