Ravens not getting enough out of kickoff return unit

Last season, David Reed led the NFL in kickoff return average, putting up 29.3 yards per return.

This year, Reed's kick return numbers are almost identical to those he put up in his rookie campaign - he's averaging 29.2 yards per kickoff return, good for fourth-best in the league - but those returns are failing to give the Ravens quality field position.

Of Reed's four returns last Sunday against the Cardinals, only one made it out to the 20-yard line. Reed opted to run back three kicks that landed deep into the end zone, and gave the Ravens starting field position at their own 15-, 17-, 19- and 20-yard line on his four returns.

That performance, while statistically solid, was not acceptable to the second-year wide receiver.

"I didn't feel like I did a good job at all," Reed said. "Kickoff returns is a team effort, and every man has got to be doing his job or else someone's going to have to pay, and I guess I was that guy. I don't know. It was just bad. It was bad for me. I didn't do that good. I was not happy with my performance at all."

With the new NFL rule that has teams kicking off from the 35-yard line this season, more kicks are coming down in the end zone, forcing returners to decide when it's best to try and run it out and when it would be wiser to take a knee and give the offense possession starting at the 20.

Reed has shown that he's willing to run back kicks even when they're five or six yards deep, which can allow for a big play, but can also result in sub-par field position. That's a strategy he says he'll continue to employ.

"Really, if I can catch it going forward, then I can take it out," Reed said. "If I'm catching it going backwards, then I'll probably just stay in."

Asked about Reed's performance thus far this season, special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg said that the coaches are happy with the effort Reed is giving them and feel he's close to the level he was playing at last year.

Rosburg feels that Reed's numerous injuries this season have played a factor in the sub-par field position the Ravens are getting on kick returns, but he also wants to see more out of the guys that are opening the holes for Reed.

"We're looking at the whole unit rather than just David," Rosburg said. "The results of David's returns are a product of what happens up front. And when there are guys in the hole, and he tries to make somebody miss, it's not clean and there are all kinds of things that go into it. And so I think David has been, as you all know, has been back and forth with injuries. And I think he's now getting into the swing of things.

"And I'm anxious for him to get another opportunity and go make something happen, because in that particular phase, he can be a difference-maker. We love the way he runs the ball. He has passion for it, he's been an explosive player, and that would be very valuable this week."

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