S, South Florida
Numbers: 5'10 (5104) / 201 pounds / 4.56 forty-speed
2006 stats: 17-346-0 kick returns, 4 special-teams tackles, 1
special-teams assist with St. Louis
2005 stats: injured reserve
2004 stats: 33-761-0 kick returns, 0-18-0 punt returns, 12 tackles, 1-5
tackle for loss, 1 pass deflection, 11 special-teams tackles, 1 special-teams
assist with Philadelphia
The player: Don't tell Reed that life's fair. After an outstanding rookie
season with Philadelphia in 2004, the affable but mature young man was running
away from an angry dog when he tried to go over the top of a chain-link fence.
Haste and a wrong step led to him hanging upside-down from the top of the fence.
He didn't know it at the time, but a tendril of sharp metal had entered the back
of his knee and completely severed his peroneal nerve, which affects the use of
his ankle and foot. "I got up and tried to run, but my foot wouldn't work
and I just fell right on the concrete," he told a Philadelphia newspaper,
"I kind of dragged myself to the street. I don't know how." While many
people with such an injury have a hard time ever walking properly again, Reed
rehabbed his way into the Eagles training camp and then onto the 2006 St. Louis Rams roster as a kick returner, special-teamer and backup safety. Before the
injury, the only things keeping Reed from being a top NFL starter were a few
nuances in deep coverage and a habit of missing tackles while trying to make the
highlight-reel hit. Nobody complained about his return skills, though, as he
averaged 23.06 yards a pop. In his comeback with the Rams, however, he lacked
agility and burst as a return man - although his 20.35 average wasn't bad - and
didn't show his old skills as a defender, so they cut him. While it's unlikely
Reed will ever be able to regain the skills he showed as a rookie, he's still a
decent safety prospect and a better-than-average kick returner. While Reed may
never regain his agility and explosion, the injury didn't take away his
intellect, instinct, hands, courage and vision.
How he fits: Since the Colts are currently stacked in the kick return
department with Terrence Wilkins and T.J. Rushing, they'd be looking at Reed as
a reserve safety and special-teams tackler. Even in his reduced capacity, Reed
is still better than most of the guys walking around in street clothes and could
earn his keep on kick coverage. While it's not likely he'll ever totally recover
from his injury, it's not out of the question that he'll improve as he works
with it. He's that kind of guy.
Reminds me of: Before the injury, Reed looked like Eugene Wilson of the
Patriots - if Wilson was also a top-flight return man. Afterwards, he's like a
slightly more speedy Anthony Floyd.
J.R. Reed tackles Detroit's Eddie Drummond
(Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Colt Scout: Safety J.R. Reed
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