Ravens' Ed Reed agrees with president's concerns

201301281637598602044-p2.jpeg

Ravens' Ed Reed agrees with president's concerns

NEW ORLEANS (AP) Unlike several players at the Super Bowl, Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed agrees with President Obama that football needs to be made safer. Reed wants to be part of the solution, too.

The 11-year veteran and one of the most respected players in the NFL said Monday at the Super Bowl that Obama's comments questioning the safety of the game are on target. Reed added he'd like to be someone ``to help work it out.''

``I am with Obama,'' Reed said after learning of the president's concerns about parents allowing their sons to play football. ``I have a son. I am not forcing football on my son. If he wants to play it ... I can't make decisions for him. All I can do is say, `Son, I played it so you don't have to.' `'

Reed, a nine-time Pro Bowler, believes football's medical system is broken.

``We've got some leaks in it that need to be worked out,'' he said. ``Every medical training room should be upgraded; training rooms can be a lot better.

``When you've got the president talking about it, you got something.''

Reed's opinion was far from the majority among Ravens and San Francisco 49ers asked about Obama's comments as they prepared for Sunday's Super Bowl. Teammate Joe Flacco said no one forced football on him or anyone else in the NFL.

``This is something we chose to do,'' the quarterback said. ``When you talk about little kids doing it, they are not having the collisions we have in the NFL.''

49eres All-Pro linebacker Aldon Smith was among several San Francisco players who doesn't see anything wrong with their kids playing football.

``It's not like we signed up and thought we were going to play tennis,'' Smith said. ``It's a physical game. Everybody plays hard. And guys get hit sometimes. That's what we all know coming into the game. We all signed up for it.

``We came out to play football.''

Guard Alex Boone was adamant that football has to be ``physical,'' while adding he believed the league and the players association were attempting to make the game safer.

``If he wants to play, he can play. He can do whatever he wants,'' Boone said of having a son pursue footballs. ``With little kids, you don't really have to worry about them that much. But as you get older, you have to understand the game better.

``I think the NFL is doing a great job with that right now with the little kids, try to teach them now, young, so that they understand. But, it's just football. It's going to be physical.''

While acknowledging he's a football fan, Obama told The New Republic he's concerned about the violent nature of the sport - enough so that if he had a son, he'd think twice about allowing him to play.

``I think that those of us who love the sport are going to have to wrestle with the fact that it will probably change gradually to try to reduce some of the violence,'' he said.

``In some cases, that may make it a little bit less exciting, but it will be a whole lot better for the players, and those of us who are fans maybe won't have to examine our consciences quite as much.''

49ers cornerback Tarell Brown called football ``a dangerous sport,'' but not one he would dissuade anyone from trying.

``I can understand what President Obama is saying, but at the same time, the league is putting in things (for safety),'' Brown said. ``It is a physical game if you are passionate about it and are trained the right way.''

But Reed isn't sure everyone is being trained properly, or cared for adequately.

``I felt like I played the game as safe as possible,'' he said. ``I even tell the guys that they have to take care of their bodies, take care of themselves. If you take care of that, it will take care of you.''

San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh joked about allowing his son Jack, now 4 months old, to follow in his footsteps; Harbaugh was an NFL quarterback for 14 seasons.

``If President Obama feels that way, then (there will) be a little less competition for Jack Harbaugh when he gets older,'' said Harbaugh, whose older brother John coaches the Niners' opponent, the Baltimore Ravens. ``That's the first thing that jumps into my mind, if other parents are thinking that way.''

---

Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

AFC North: Steelers LB James Harrison will return for 2016

ravensdraftrefframe_1.jpg

AFC North: Steelers LB James Harrison will return for 2016

The Ravens can expect to see Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison as an opponent again in 2016. Harrison confirmed on his Instagram account Monday that he would return for another season.

Harrison will turn 38 years old Wednesday (May 4), but he was still effective in 2015 with five sacks and 40 tackles playing in the Steelers’ linebacker rotation. With his announcement that he was returning, Harrison wrote “I’m feeling just like a fine wine. Getting better with age.”

Despite Harrison’s age, the Steelers believe they got younger and better on defense through the draft. Five of the Steelers’ seven picks were on defense – cornerback Artie Burns (first round), safety Sean Davis (second), defensive tackle Javon Hargrave (third round), outside linebacker Travis Feeney (sixth round), and inside linebacker Tyler Matakevich (seventh round).  

Clearly, there will be plenty of new names in the Ravens-Steelers rivalry, with both teams looking to get younger and faster. However, Harrison plans to be part of the mix for at least another season. The Ravens host the Steelers in Week 9, and visit the Steelers on Christmas afternoon.

MORE RAVENS: BISCIOTTI GETS HIS WISH WITH BOLSTERED PASS RUSH

Bisciotti gets his wish with draft class full of pass rushers

ravensdraftrefframe_1.jpg

Bisciotti gets his wish with draft class full of pass rushers

At the team's "State of the Ravens" end-of-season news conference, owner Steve Bisciotti made no bones about where he thought the Ravens needed to improve in 2016: rushing the passer.

So although Bisciotti didn't speak to the media after the draft, he had to be pleased with the results.

With two of their first three picks, the Ravens selected players who figure to pressure the quarterback -- Boise State linebacker Kamalei Correa and Brigham Young defensive end Bronson Kaufusi.

"They both have pass rush ability," coach John Harbaugh said. "They both get sacks, they are both high-motor players and high-energy pass rushers. These two guys are going to run to the ball. These two guys are going to run to the ball 100 miles an hour every single play. That’s really important on defense.”

The next day, the Ravens added Grand Valley State defensive end Matt Judon -- who had 20 sacks last year -- in the fifth round. Just for good measure, they also reportedly agreed to sign undrafted rookie linebacker Victor Ochi of Stony Brook, who led the Football Championship Subdivision with 13 sacks.

Harbaugh said after the draft that "I don't think it was a secret" that Bisciotti wanted the Ravens to upgrade the pass rush, "and we were able to fill (that need). I’m really fired up about that. I’m really excited about these guys getting to the quarterback.”

Bisciotti said in January that losing Terrell Suggs to a season-ending injury in Week 1 had a "domino effect" that greatly disrupted the defense. Elvis Dumervil was forced into more of a three-down role, and Courtney Upshaw never came close to replacing Suggs' sack numbers. Dumervil dropped from 17 sacks to six, and overall the Ravens dropped from 49 sacks in 2014 to 37 last season.

When the pass rush failed to pressure the quarterback, coverage linebackers or defensive backs were frequently exposed.

"I think I have a true appreciation of what pressure means, and so that’s what I think we need to do," Bisciotti had said in January. "I think we need to focus on our free agency and our draft, and I think we have to have multiple pass rushers in order to let everybody else be effective.”

Suggs turns 34 in October and is coming off his second major Achilles injury. Dumervil is 32. So the need to develop good young pass rushers is obvious. The Ravens hope they took a big step in that direction over the weekend.

MORE RAVENS: EVALUATING ALL FIVE 4TH-ROUND SELECTIONS

Will Ravens' record-setting fourth-round bonanza live up to the hype?

keenanreynoldsrefframe_1.jpg

Will Ravens' record-setting fourth-round bonanza live up to the hype?

Will the Ravens’ fourth-round haul live up to the hype?

No team in NFL history had ever made five fourth-round picks, and some felt the Ravens hit on all of them. ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay says, “This might be the best fourth round I’ve ever seen from a team.”

Here’s a closer look at how the five players the Ravens selected in Round 4 could fit in next season:

Tavon Young, CB, Temple (104th overall)

Young will compete for a nickel corner spot as a rookie. Barring injuries, the only certainty about the Ravens secondary is Jimmy Smith starting at one corner and Eric Weddle starting at safety. Young will compete for playing time with Shareece Wright, Kyle Arrington, Will Davis, and others. But if Young plays regularly as a rookie and helps them win games, it’s a steal.

Chris Moore, WR, Cincinnati (107)

Moore has legit deep speed, joining Breshad Perriman and Mike Wallace as receivers that can stretch the field for quarterback Joe Flacco. Think about it, the Ravens didn’t’ have Perriman, Wallace, or Moore on the field last season. If Moore has a strong training camp, the Ravens will find a way to get him some opportunities. Remember the big plays Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones made during the Super Bowl year? The Ravens hope Wallace, Perriman, and Moore provide that kind of impact.

Alex Lewis, OT, Nebraska (130)

If the Ravens part with left tackle Eugene Monroe, Lewis could become the backup at left tackle behind first-round pick Ronnie Stanley. Lewis could also be the backup to right tackle Rick Wagner. Either way, Lewis could be one injury away from playing.

Willie Henry, DT, Michigan (132)

He’s the fourth-rounder with the hardest path to immediate playing time. The Ravens are deep at defensive tackle with Brandon Williams, Timmy Jernigan, and Carl Davis. But if Henry shows he can help as a run stopper, he’ll be part of the defensive line rotation.

Kenneth Dixon, RB, Louisiana Tech (134)

Some thought Dixon was the best pass-catching back in the draft. Justin Forsett will enter camp as the starter, but the Ravens want to keep him fresh. It’s a crowded running back group right now, but Buck Allen and Lorenzo Taliaferro both saw playing time as rookie running backs. Dixon will too, if he shows he’s ready to make plays.

MORE RAVENS: A WAY TOO EARLY NFL DRAFT TOP 10