It's apparent to anyone who has watched the Ravens play over the last handful of weeks that Ed Reed is hurting.
Reed is dealing with a painful shoulder injury which was brought on by a stinger earlier this season, and he's also battling a lingering nerve impingement in his neck.
Earlier this week, the veteran safety told ESPN's AFC North blog that his shoulder has "just been hanging on the last couple of weeks." Today, Reed downplayed his injury status, but acknowledged that he's been in pain lately.
"Football, man. It's a physical sport," Reed said. "You're going to have bumps and bruises, man. I have yet to miss a game this year, so be it."
The shoulder and neck injuries have clearly affected Reed's ability to wrap up an offensive player in the open field. The 10-year veteran and eight-time Pro Bowler badly whiffed on a tackle in the regular season finale against the Bengals, and missed a few tackles in prior games, as well.
Reed is well-aware that his tackling abilities have declined a bit due to his health issues, but he says he's working hard to get his body into as good of playing shape as he possibly can.
"It takes a lot. I work at it with my doctor who helps me every week," Reed said. "I'm getting treatment every week. The trainers do an amazing job. It's being smart. It's part of being a professional, understanding you can't be doing certain things and take care of your body. One, being drinking. You got to be smart about what you're doing.
"Guys take care of themselves, getting massages, whatever it might take."
Reed said he doesn't think he'll need surgery on the injured shoulder after the season is over, but the main Reed-related question once the Ravens' playoff run ends will be whether the 33-year-old will decide to return for the 2012 season.
That's obviously a question for another day, but Reed certainly knows the physical toll that playing another season would take on his body.
"It's amazing what these guys do for years," Reed said. "People put themselves at risk playing this game. Your body goes through a lot. It's a lot to you have to do to stay healthy. I commend these guys for what we've been through as a team battling through injuries this year physically.
"It's tough as football players, but this is what we signed up for. Guys have been playing this game for a long time. We understand the value of taking care of your body and it trickles down to the young guys. They understand and they take heed to what we do."