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The Ravens practice facility has been a relatively quiet place over the last month as players have left for vacations or to visit their offseason homes.
One player, however, who’s been a consistent face in the building is David Reed.
The wide receiver and kick returner is preparing to enter his third year in the league and he’s working to come back from a torn ACL that forced him to end the season on injured reserve.
“Of course, I’d want to go on vacation somewhere and get some down time, but I’m not even concerned about that right now,” Reed said. “This is a real important year for me, real important offseason for me right now. I know what I’ve got on the line, so I’m not really concerned about vacation and all that.”
Reed had surgery to repair the knee injury, and now he’s in the process of regaining strength in his legs and getting back into shape to be ready for training camp in July.
His knee feels good, he says, and he’s planning to start running again soon.
“I feel like I’m getting a lot of the motor control back,” Reed said. “It’s a big uphill battle and I think I’m starting to get over that slope.”
The knee injury in Week 16 ended what was a trying season for Reed.
He missed three of the first four games of the season because of a suspension and shoulder injury, and he then returned to the lineup as the team’s starting kick returner.
In his second season returning kicks, Reed showed promise at times – he averaged 29.7 yards per kickoff return, seventh best in the NFL – but mistakes in a Week 10 loss to Seattle ended up costing Reed his starting job. Reed fumbled two kickoffs and had a personal foul penalty against the Seahawks, prompting the Ravens to turn to other options at kick returner.
“I had that bad game in Seattle where I fumbled twice, but that was part of the process of growing and becoming a great player in the NFL,” Reed said. “I’ve just got to go through that and learn from it.”
Reed spent the next few weeks trying to earn back his starting job and was put in to return a kick in the second half against the Browns. He returned the kick about 30 yards and appeared to have a seam to take it back for a touchdown, but he tried to make a cut and felt his knee give out.
He knew right away that his season was over. Two days later, the Ravens placed him on injured reserve.
“I’ve never had this many injuries in my whole career, so hopefully, I’m getting them all out of the way while I’m young, and then the sky is the limit after this,” Reed said.
As Reed prepares for this third season, the final year of his rookie contract, he has big expectations. He wants to earn back the starting kick returner slot and also sees himself playing on offense.
The Ravens used him in a few situations on offense last year, and he hopes to see that role expand this season.
“I feel like I’m a playmaker when the ball is in my hands and I can make people miss,” he said. “I feel like I know how to run the ball. I think I showed that a little bit last year.”