Should Reed have sat out?

Should Reed have sat out?
November 14, 2012, 3:15 am
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Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata went through pre-game warmups on Sunday, but then, nursing a bad shoulder and a bad knee, he sat out the Ravens' 55-20 win over the Raiders. That essentially bought him an extra week of rest, which could be huge over the second half of the season.

After watching Ed Reed leave the Raiders game in obvious pain with an injured shoulder, it's fair to wonder whether he, too, should have taken all or most of the day off.

To be clear: Players want to be on the field, perhaps none more so than Reed. The guy simply loves to play. But Reed admitted a month or so that he's been bothered by a shoulder injury. Reed downplays the injury at times -- at one point last month he said, "I ain't no pitcher. I don't play baseball.  So long as I'm not throwing ... it's nothing to worry about."

Except maybe it is.

It seemed to be a factor more than once against the Raiders. The most obvious example came when he failed to wrap up Raiders receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, who broke free from Reed and scampered 55 yards for a touchdown late in the second quarter.

After that play, Reed left the field grimacing, his shoulder clearly bothering him, Reed returned to action in the second half but watched most of the fourth quarter in sweatpants, effectively asking out of the game with the Ravens up big.

"I was having a pretty bad game as an individual, and I really didn’t want to go back out there as a competitor playing the way I was playing," Reed said after the game. "But we’ve got guys that can step up, step in, and needed to get those reps and see what other guys can do."

It is certainly unusual to hear Reed say, "I really didn't want to go back out there." After the game, he again downplayed the injury, saying, "I’m fine. It was just a minor stinger, not very serious.”

If all of this sounds familiar, it's because Reed has been down this road before. He is a gamer and has played through injuries in the past. But at times, including last year, while bothering neck and shoulder injuries, his tackling fell off demonstrably. At what point do the Ravens reach a tipping point with Reed? Is Reed at 85 percent better than James Ihedigbo or others that might take Reed's place? What about Reed at 50 percent?

That's a tough question that the Ravens might have to address at some point. Ngata inched his way back toward 100 percent by taking Sunday off in advance of the meat-grinder of an upcoming schedule. Reed, though, had no such luck, and it remains to see whether that proves costly.