Reed remains focused as he eyes new deal

OWINGS MILLS – In another display of his rarified instincts, Ed Reed read the eyes of quarterback Kyle Boller and broke on the football for a patented interception. It was a sequence that became repetitive for opposing quarterbacks last season as Reed intercepted nine passes to emerge as the NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

The Pro Bowl safety broke his media silence Tuesday during the Ravens' mandatory minicamp, expressing excitement about his role in an aggressive 46 defensive scheme while downplaying what he might do to top a record-setting campaign.

"It's definitely going to help us to get the guys to throw the ball quickly, put some pressure on the quarterback, and make things a lot easier for us," said Reed, who was surrounded by cameras and tape recorders along with a delegation of honor roll students he hosted from Booker T. Washington Middle School. "I'm just going to stay humble, continue to work hard and let the game come to me and try not to make even more plays or jump plays. It's about the ‘W's.' It's not about Ed Reed."

In an approach similar to linebacker Ray Lewis' reticence on his contract situation, Reed declined to elaborate on his financial future. Reed is slated to earn a $550,000 base salary this season and is under contract for through 2006.

It was rumored that Reed would skip off-season activities, but he has attended minicamps for the last two weeks at the Ravens' training complex.

"I'm definitely happy I'm here," Reed said. "I'm blessed enough to be here today and that's all that matters."

The Ravens rewarded Todd Heap with a six-year contract extension that makes him the highest paid tight end in the league. Now, Reed is looking for his payday.

"When that time comes, we'll see," Reed said. "That's definitely something that's going to go on with my agent and the Ravens."

Reed, who set an NFL record with 358 interception return yards and another NFL mark with a 106-yard interception return against the Cleveland Browns, appears to have outperformed his rookie contract.

Reed signed a five-year, $6.225 million contract in 2002 that included a $3.625 million signing bonus.

"Like I said, I feel good and when it happens, it happens," said Reed, who recently fired agent Scott Parker and hired Miami-based agent, Eugene Mato. "To be able to do what we do on the field is the best part about this job. To continue doing it is even greater, and that's what I'm focused on."

Running back Jamal Lewis and defensive end Tony Weaver are set to become unrestricted free agents after this season, and Reed may have to wait in line to get a new deal based on indications from the team.

"They will get theirs in the same time sequence and framework that Todd did," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "There's a structure to it, a timeframe and we're not going to violate that. The salary cap demands that you do things in a certain order."

The Ravens have added former Pro Bowl cornerback Samari Rolle to go with Pro Bowl cornerback Chris McAlister, retaining seven-time Pro Bowl cornerback Deion Sanders and four-time Pro Bowl cornerback Dale Carter.

Is this the top secondary in the league?

"We got that last year," Reed said. "We're going to continue to get that hopefully. It's our goal to be best and we're going to strive to be the best we can be."

Through three seasons, Reed has intercepted 21 passes, recorded 228 tackles and forced four fumbles with four sacks while scoring six touchdowns. The 2002 first-round draft pick has also blocked four punts, returning three for touchdowns.

The Ravens finished 9-7 last season, but went 7-1 when Reed intercepted a pass and are 15-3 over the last three seasons when he picks off a pass.

When asked to explain his uncanny knack for anticipating where the football is going, Reed replied, "I think it's about knowing the game plan, knowing the opponent and instincts and hard work and communicating with teammates. Without them, I wouldn't be able to make the plays I make."

In addition to being a long time contributor to RavensInsider, Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.

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