Ravens' Reed a fast study

BALTIMORE -- Ridiculing Ed Reed briefly became sportscasters' primary hobby. The Baltimore Ravens' rookie strong safety was compared openly to Dallas Cowboys' Super Bowl goat Leon Lett. The similarity was eerily familiar after Reed's gaffe against the Cincinnati Bengals a few weeks ago. Reed fumbled while celebrating with the football in the air to interrupt a sure route to the end zone during an interception return. Look who's laughing now.

Reed scored the only touchdown in the Ravens' 13-12 victory over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday at Ravens Stadium. Scooting past Titans safety Aric Morris with a swim move, Reed blocked Craig Hentrich's punt one minute into the first quarter and sprinted 11 yards into the end zone.

This time, the first-round pick and former consensus All-American from the University of Miami warily extended the football a few strides away from the goal line.

"I knew it was a long season and I knew eventually I was going to get a highlight in," said Reed, who has the only two blocked punts in franchise history. "I'm glad to get that one in, and me holding the ball up was to give [ESPN host] Stuart Scott something to talk about. I was just doing my job."

Reed continued trends of studying opponents until he knows their tendencies, and making up for past mistakes. With seven tackles, including inside the Ravens' 20-yard line, Reed was also a key factor in run support in holding Titans running back Eddie George to 61 yards on 16 carries.

In the win over the Bengals, Reed delivered a key crack-back block on Lamont Brightful's 95-yard punt return. He also intercepted another Jon Kitna pass in the fourth quarter and has four interceptions for the season.

 "He's just a great football player with a great nose for the ball," Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Nolan said. "He's got good leadership skills. He doesn't play like a rookie or act like a rookie other than holding the ball out a couple of weeks ago. "He's just more mature than you would expect a young player to be."

Reed has 55 tackles for the season to go along with a sack, and 11 pass deflections. In four college seasons, he collected 289 tackles, 21 interceptions, six sacks and 54 pass deflections before Baltimore (5-6) drafted him 24th overall in April.

In leading Miami to the national title last season, the 5-foot-11, 205-pound Reed was described as the heart and soul of the Hurricanes. He's also building a reputation as a film grind. Reed said he's learning all he can by studying films with another prominent former ‘Cane: All-Pro middle linebacker Ray Lewis.

"Ray Lewis is my mentor, without a doubt," Reed said. " Me and his lockers are right next to each other. Half the time I'm always by his house. I probably should just move in. "He has taken my game to another level as far as watching film and seeing things on the field."

The injured Lewis offered this piece of sideline advice to Reed before he blocked Hentrich's punt in the first quarter.

 "He told me he needed to make one play and I made that play."


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