All-Pro safety Ed Reed was present at the Baltimore Ravens' Under Armour Performance Center for the first day of training camp. Reed was a no call, no show for mandatory minicamp, and during the offseason, he repeatedly made public statements suggesting a dubious attitude towards returning to football this season.
Over his ten years in Baltimore, Reed has inspired awe in fans with his uncanny ability to make game changing defensive plays. At the same time he has elicited frustration, largely due to his annual talk of retirement and his tendency to publicly criticize team management. When cornerback Lardarius Webb received a six-year $50 million contract, Reed voiced his displeasure with his own contract and made it clear he felt disrespected by the Ravens brass.
The future Hall of Famer is under contract for the remainder of the season. In mid-July, at a youth football camp, he told CBSsports.com's Jason La Canfora that he was sure the Ravens expected him to be at camp. He then added, “But I'll say this, they're not going to get me for cheap, not a chance.” Last September, he turned down a multi-year contract extension offer from the Ravens. Contract negotiations are further complicated by the cautious safety's decision to serve as his own agent.
Injuries, including a nerve impingement that affects his neck and shoulder, have plagued Reed in recent years. He sat out the first six weeks of the 2010 season on the PUP list after offseason hip surgery, and despite starting in every game in 2011, he notched only three interceptions. Additionally, Reed's ability to tackle has been questioned by fans and analysts in recent years.
While questions persist about Reed's health, he is indisputably an integral part of the Ravens defense. His unique playing style forces opposing teams to game-plan for him and to account for his presence on the field at all times. He has 54 career interceptions, the most of any NFL player since he entered the league in 2002.
Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, owner Steve Bisciotti, and general manager Ozzie Newsome consistently defended Reed, maintaining confidence that he would be in shape and in camp. Ray Lewis, who has played alongside Reed for ten years, also insisted he had no concerns about Reed's commitment to playing this season. At 10 a.m. on day one of training camp, Reed entered the team complex and proved them right.