A day after David Reed lost two fumbles on kick returns and was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct on a third run-back, head coach John Harbaugh implied that Reed may have lost his job on the Ravens' kickoff return unit.
"I think we're looking for a kick returner," Harbaugh said today, during his Monday press conference.
Harbaugh then flatly admitted that while Reed has handled kick return duties for nearly every week this season that he's been healthy, he might not be the best guy for the job on the Ravens' roster.
"Probably, (Lardarius) Webb is our best guy, if you look at it," Harbaugh said. "But he's a starting corner and he's our punt returner. So, you can't put too much on any one guy's plate. We're looking for the best guy to do it."
It's rare to hear a coach be so publicly forthcoming when it comes to information about his personnel, but that honesty is a clear indication of just how frustrated Harbaugh and the Ravens are with Reed's play of late.
Last year, in his rookie season, Reed led the NFL in kickoff return average, recording 29.3 yards per run-back. He had a franchise-record 103-yard kick return for a touchdown in a December win over the Texans and looked confident in the return aspect of the game.
Reed also recorded a 77-yard return back in Week 2 this season, and overall, he's averaging 28.6 yards per return, fifth-best in the league among players with at least 10 returns.
But within the last two weeks, Reed has now fumbled three times on kick returns, and that's something which just isn't acceptable to the Ravens' coaches.
"I think you can't turn the ball over; that's Job One," Harbaugh said. "David knows that. That's something that he works on very hard, just like all our guys do. You can't turn the ball over, especially in a kickoff return situation. That's just not something we're going to be able to do and expect to win football games."
The Ravens' other in-house options when it comes to kickoff returns are cornerback Chris Carr - who returned kicks earlier in his career, but has been mostly a punt returner in his four seasons in Baltimore - and rookies Torrey Smith, LaQuan Williams and Tandon Doss.
The coaches might be hesitant to use Smith because of his expanded role of late as a wide receiver, but Williams could emerge as an option if Reed does indeed lose his return job.
An undrafted free agent out of Maryland, Williams has averaged 21.8 yards on five returns this season, but he averaged 30.5 yards on two preseason kick returns.