Ed Reed 'wouldn't change' approach to returning punts

Ed Reed is one of the most electric defensive players in NFL history – especially when he has the ball in his hands.

In 10 seasons, the seven-time Pro Bowl free safety has scored 13 touchdowns and is the only player in NFL history to score return touchdowns off an interception, fumble recovery, punt return and blocked punt.

Reed can also make some heart-stopping decisions, as he did during a punt return in the Ravens’ 12-7 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

After Jaguars punter Nick Harris booted a punt from Jacksonville’s 28-yard line, the ball dropped before Reed, who appeared willing to let the Jaguars down the ball.

But at the last moment, Reed tried to corral the bouncing ball, and several Jacksonville players, thinking that Reed had botched the catch, pounced on the ball. Replays, however, showed that the ball barely bounced away from Reed, and the ball was ruled downed at the Ravens’ 32 with possession going to the Ravens.

On Thursday, Reed said he had no qualms about trying to collect a bouncing punt despite a coverage unit bearing down on him.

“I was just telling the guys, just getting them out of the way to make sure the ball doesn’t hit them,” he said. “Once I realized that it kind of bounced away from everybody, if I got a good bounce, I was thinking it was going to bounce to me or away from me the way the ball was bouncing. If I get it, maybe we spark something. And if I don’t get it and I fumble it, we still might spark something because we would understand as a defense and as a team, ‘Ok, now we need to make a play.’ Like I told coach, I wouldn’t change it. Obviously, you have to be smart about the plays that you try to make, but like I said, I think it was just a spark either way it [went]. It’s good that it didn’t hit me, and I knew it didn’t hit me. But, like I said, if it hit me and I would have fumbled it and they would have gotten the ball or we would have gotten it – however it would have played out – I think it would have been a good spark on our side because we needed it.”

Special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg conceded that Reed’s attempt was “too close for comfort.” But Rosburg also said he supports Reed’s decision-making.

“I have a lot of faith in Ed,” Rosburg said. “Ed has demonstrated throughout his history – both on special teams and defense – that he has some amazing ball skills, and he judges and analyzes football probably as good as anybody I’ve ever seen. When Ed thinks he can make a play, we’re all behind him. Obviously, ball security is primary, and he understands that. So with that said, that particular play was too close for comfort, but we have a lot of trust in Ed, and he’s earned that.”

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