ASHBURN, VA. — Injuries may have sapped the Ravens of starting linebackers Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs for Sunday's contest against the Washington Redskins, but the Ravens will still feature free safety Ed Reed in their defensive backfield. And the Redskins are fully aware of the eight-time Pro Bowler's potential to wreak havoc at FedEx Field.
"Ed Reed, he's the top of that defense," Washington's exciting rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III said after Wednesday's practice. "With Ray Lewis being out, he is the leader of that defense. He does a good job with everything. He covers good ground. He tackles well. He's got good ball skills. It's nothing to fear, but you definitely have to be aware of where he's at."
One Washington player who knows Reed very well is wide receiver Santana Moss, who played alongside Reed at the University of Miami. But even Moss said that he's glad that he's not lining up at quarterback against his friend and foe.
"He's one of those guys that regardless of what you're doing out there on the field, you have to make sure you see where [No.] 20 is at," Moss said of Reed. "You've got to make sure that you're not letting him bait you into anything, and that's what he does well. He will bait you and make you think that he's doing something else. He's very smart, and he watches all the film."
In Sunday's 23-20 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Reed intercepted quarterback Charlie Batch in the fourth quarter – his 61st career interception, which ranks as the most in franchise history and the most in the NFL since he entered the league in 2002. He ranks 10th on the all-time list for interceptions and needs just one more pick to tie Dave Brown and Dick LeBeau for eighth place.
Washington coach Mike Shanahan met Reed for the first time last year and came away impressed with him.
"Some guys, I think, are born to be football players. I think Ed is that type of guy," Shanahan said. "… He knows what is going to happen before it happens. Usually the great players are not only great athletes but great students of the game, and he is a guy that I think is very well prepared and he knows what is going to happen before it happens, which is why he has so many picks."
The task of keeping the ball away from Reed will fall on Griffin, who is tied with the New England Patriots' Tom Brady for the fewest interceptions (four) by a quarterback who has started every game this season. Griffin said he's already gotten some advice from Moss.
"Tana's telling the truth and the coaches said it: He's the best safety to ever play, or one of the best to ever play. You respect that," Griffin said. "I respect him as a player. I'm going to be aware of where he's at. Like I said, it's nothing to fear. But he covers a lot of ground. He does a lot of unconventional things. You've just got to be aware of where he's at just like he's got to be aware of where I am and [running back] Alfred [Morris] and everyone else."