Harbaugh Looking For A Kick Returner

The Ravens are evaluating the kick return position after David Reed’s two fumbles Sunday.

Posted by Garrett Downing on Monday, November 14th, 2011 at 5:42 pm | Categories: Garrett Downing, Week 10 vs Seahawks

The Baltimore Ravens are looking for their kick returner after Sunday’s game in Seattle where starting return man David Reed fumbled twice, leading to six Seattle points in the 22-17 loss.

“I think we’re looking for our kick returner,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said during Monday’s press conference.

Reed, who led the NFL in kick return average last season, has fumbled three times in the last two games, and he spent the second half watching from the sidelines as rookie wide receiver Torrey Smith took over the return duties. Defensive back Chris Carr also returned some kicks after the first half fumbles.

“It’s a little hump I’ve got to get over,” Reed said after the game. “It’s very frustrating.”

Moving forward, it’s unclear who will take over on kickoff returns if the Ravens decide not to go back to Reed.

“Probably [Ladarius] Webb is probably our best guy, if you look at it,” Harbaugh said. “But he’s the starting corner and he’s our punt returner, so you can’t put too much on any one guy’s plate.”

Baltimore has used five players to return kicks this year – Webb, Reed, Smith, Carr, LaQuan Williams and Bryan McCann – and none has taken one back for a touchdown. Webb has returned one kickoff this season for 37 yards.

Reed is currently ranked second in the AFC with a 28-yard average per return, but the recent string of turnovers has the coaches looking at other options. 

“You can’t turn the ball over,” Harbaugh said. “That’s job one and David knows that. That’s something that he works on very hard, as all our guys do. You can’t turn the ball over, especially in kickoff return situation. That’s just not something we’re going to be able to do and expect to win football games.”

In addition to the fumbles, Harbaugh said that Reed missed open running lanes on his returns.

“The kickoff returns were actually probably the best blocked that we’ve had all year,” Harbaugh said. “And I didn’t know that last night, but after watching the tape, I thought we blocked those kickoff returns pretty well. So, that’s the thing; there are some encouraging things in there, even though the result couldn’t have been any worse. But, you fight through that, you don’t overreact, you definitely don’t panic, and you get better.”

After Sunday’s game, Harbaugh and several players spoke up in support of Reed, who has gone through a challenging second season in the league.

“He’s our guy,” Smith said. “Hopefully nobody will lose faith in David. He’s our guy and we need him.  We know what he can do.”

Sunday was the most recent hiccup in Reed’s season.

Reed was suspended for the season-opener against Pittsburgh, then suffered a shoulder injury against Tennessee in his first game back in the lineup. The injury sidelined Reed for the next two games, and he returned in Week 6 against Houston.

He appeared to be finding his groove in recent weeks in the return game and was also targeted with some plays in the offense. But then came the fumbles, and a personal foul penalty for dropping the ball on a defender after one return.

Now, it appears he is fighting for his starting job.

“I’ve just got to get through this,” Reed said. “And I will.”

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