Ed Reed: You can't do anything but have much respect for Bill Belichick

FOXBORO — Bill Belichick‘s glowing admiration of Ed Reed is universally acknowledged and accepted in the pro football world.

Turns out, the future Hall of Fame free safety feels just about the same way about the Patriots head coach.

“I mean he’s a winner for one,” Reed said. “I had an opportunity to talk to Coach Belichick a couple times and had him over there at the Pro Bowl. Just watching ‘A Football Life’ with Coach Belichick you can’t do anything but have much respect for Coach Belichick and the way he runs things. His background and the discipline and focus that he asks of guys and what he allows you to do as a football player; he honestly understands your athletic ability.

“If you look at Coach Belichick and the way he coaches his team and the guys that play for him and the positions that they play, he allows football players to be football players. Coach understands that this is a short-lived career and not everybody is going to have those five and 10 and 15-year careers. A bunch of guys are great athletes and they can come on and make a name on his team and find themselves somewhere else with a starting job. You see a lot of guys playing out of position when you’re watching the Patriots play.”

When you watch the Ravens play – especially on defense – the focal point is still inside linebacker Ray Lewis, the star of this week’s “A Football Life” series on the NFL Network.

“Ray’s great to me,” Reed said Wednesday. “I know a lot about him and how he approaches his family and his work ethic and how much he cares and loves his kids. It’s going to be eye-opening to everybody, especially what Ray has been through over the course of his life and through football. I think it’s going to be a great deal that can open a bunch of eyes. Ray has a lot of talent and not just in football, on the field. He’s a great dad. He’s a Hall of Fame dad. He does a lot of things off the field. There are a lot of the things off the field he aspires to do also.”

As for Sunday night, Reed and Lewis do not have to worry about Aaron Hernandez the way they did last year in the AFC championship game.

“That’s one less person to throw to but they will send somebody in and get somebody else some more catches,” Reed said. “Somebody has to step up. It’s a professional league. Hernandez is probably not playing after that high ankle sprain. And being that it’s so early in the season, you’d much rather have a guy like that going for it and not hurting himself worse. But we’ll prepare for it either way. Like I said, somebody else will get a bunch more balls, I’m sure. There won’t be all this talk about Wes [Wes Welker] and all these other guys who are not getting catches so somebody has to step up right now. Hernandez is a great tight end.

“I see Wes catching the ball probably not as much but probably because they are throwing the ball to other guys who are open. It’s a long season and you do things in a certain way preparing for the weeks to come. I wouldn’t read too much into it. Wes Welker’s still a great receiver and I’m sure New England, [Tom] Brady and everybody knows that. It’s just that people probably want to make news of something that’s probably not something big in the organization. If it is, then that’s something they have to deal with.”

Reed was asked if he still feels like the Ravens outplayed the Patriots and really won the AFC championship.

“No, we lost, man. We lost by three points,” Reed said of the 23-20 outcome that sent the Patriots to Indianapolis. “Yes, we had the chance to make some plays but I’m sure Brady, who he is, and the other guys over there feel like they left some plays out there. One play that sticks out in my head from that first drive is when Brady overthrew [Rob] Gronkowski. So I’m sure they have some plays that they left out there also. It was a great game and they came out on top.
Does it still bother him today that the game slipped away?

“No, not at all. That was last year like I said,” Reed said. “They only crowned one champ last year, if I’m not mistaken. It’s behind us, like I said. We’re a totally different team this year. We don’t even have some of the same guys on the team. It’s always a new year the next year. I know I’m not worried about what happened last year. It was over and done with after that game.”

What is it about these Patriots-Ravens games that makes them so intense?

“It’s just two great teams that love to play football; a lot of great competition,” Reed said. “We just go at each other. That’s what you want. You want to see the best going against the best – offense, defense and special teams. That’s what you get in these games.”

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