Ed Reed talks number switches, his health

Through the first week of Ravens training camp, one question has been bandied about by reporters more than any other.

That question has nothing to do with the Ravens’ pass rush, the competition for the starting right tackle job or whether the team needs to go get another wide receiver.

So, what’s been on reporters’ minds while out at practice the last handful of days?

“Why the heck is Ed Reed wearing No. 3?”

Instead of seeing Reed running around in the secondary in his usual No. 20 the last week, we’ve seen the Ravens’ All-Pro safety wearing a strange-looking single-digit uni during practice. Even though the change obviously won’t be permanent (defensive backs have to wear a number between 20 and 49), we still questioned the rationale behind the switch.

Was it a tribute to former Ravens kicker Matt Stover? A way to try and confuse the offense? Turns out, the temporary change in jersey numbers was all about comfort.

“That’s the smallest jersey they had,” Reed told reporters yesterday. “That’s the smallest jersey. I just like to be comfortable at practice. Coach (John Harbaugh) came in with, ‘You have to wear game jerseys at practice,’ and I just like to be comfortable.”

Well, that’s not a very exciting story.

With the exception of the change in jersey numbers, there has been very little reason to talk about Reed early in training camp, and that’s a positive thing. In contrast to previous years, Reed has come into camp healthy and has been able to participate in full-team drills.

Despite being in good shape health-wise, Reed has still gotten a day off here and there, something which he says will be vital to remaining in good condition later in the year.

“I’m 32; I’ve been doing this for 10 years,” Reed said. “Preserving this is the key.”

Reed says he might be a bit bigger and stronger this year than years past, something which he also hopes will help him remain durable through the course of the season. The seven-time Pro Bowler has battled painful hip and neck injuries in the past, which have limited him to 10 games last season and 12 in 2009.

The Ravens’ safety needed to start last season on the Physically Unable to Perform list due to offseason hip surgery, causing him to miss the first six contests of the year.

“This is a lifelong thing now,” Reed said. “Anytime you have surgery, especially on your hip, you have to take care of your body. We all know football is a violent sport, a physical sport. Sixteen games is a long time. It’s definitely a grind, and this is a grind. If I’m not smart about taking care of myself during training camp, then who is?

“So, it’s also a business. That’s part of being a good business man - taking care of myself and understanding that (my body) is my company.”

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