If there is one thing we have learned about the Baltimore Ravens this off season, it is that they are in a win now mode. Clearly, based on the acquisitions the club has made this off-season, management believes this team is championship caliber and they have done everything they can to add the pieces to the puzzle of the 2010 football season. On paper this team has the look of a contender, easy to say at the end of June. The biggest question, and potentially most serious impediment, to the Ravens season chances is the health of free safety Ed Reed. All the questions about whether Joe Flacco can make the next step in his development as a QB, how quickly Flacco and his new targets can get on the same page, the mental state of Jared Gaither, the health of Fabian Washington and LarDarius Webb, and the re-invigorated pass rush might all fade to the background if Reed is not healthy in 2010.
Reed suffered a torn labrum in his hip during last season and he was able to gut it out and continue to play despite the injury. Reed then had reconstructive surgery to repair the labrum around the beginning of May. In a recent interview on Sirius XM radio Reed gave some indication on how his rehab is progressing.
It’s still a long slow process, you know, and I try to do some strengthening stuff to strengthen it right now and I know it’s just weak but I mean, yeah, I had to have reconstructive surgery. They had to go in and reconstruct my whole hip. They took about 6-7 inches from my IT band, replaced my labrum that I tore.
Well, it’s a four to six month process to getting yourself back to 100 percent, to get yourself in shape to start working out for a season. It’s a year-long process of getting back to 100 percent. I don’t want to come back too early, man, and injure myself again.
My doctors were excited with my progress. I’m on my off week right now. They didn’t have me working out this week so it’s been great but, you know, I don’t know, man. I could be at least a good 35 percent right now, man.
I don’t want to go back and play in pain, man, and don’t want it to be weak at all. So that’s gonna play a big part in what I’m doing.
Clearly those are not the most encouraging words coming from Reed. Part of my concern is tempered because it sounds like, based on the timing of the surgery and the pace of his rehab, Reed wants no part of training camp. For an experienced performer like Reed, I can let this slide. But there is a chance that Reed will not be ready for the opener against the Jets, or maybe even further into the season. Again, not the end of the world, as long as he can get healthy for the balance of the season and be ready for the play-offs. I think what is most concerning is trying to figure out how committed to playing in 2010 Reed really is. I think he will play as long as rehab goes well and there are no setbacks or further injuries. Ed Reed has played through a number of injuries, most notably the nerve impingement in his neck. He has the sound of a guy who wants to give it one more good run, but if his body lets him down he may not want to play through.
The Ravens must have some level of concern in regards to Reed playing in 2010. The signing of S Ken Hamlin indicates that. But Hamlin does not offer the ball hawking presence that Reed does. The Ravens defense needs to be better than it was last year without a healthy Ed Reed I am not sure it can. Do I think the Ravens success rides on the health of Ed Reed? No, but it gives them a greater margin for error. Do I think Ed Reed can tend to overstate things when speaking about his health and maybe crave attention? Yes, but I also believe he has a ways to go before stepping back on the football field and with a tough opening 6 games, plus other injuries in the secondary, the Ravens offense will be relied on more than it ever has to start the season.