Ed Reed had to say what was on his mind. And, most importantly, what was in his heart.
Words carry a certain gravitas out of the mouths of elders. And at 35, Reed already is a trusted voice among the Jets after only one week.
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The veteran safety has never been one to hold his tongue, and he wasn't about to start now. So at the conclusion of Wednesday's practice, Reed held court as only he can.
"He said, 'You can't waste days and you can't take for granted that you'll always be etched in stone in the franchise,' " Willie Colon recalled in an interview with Newsday. "He was like, 'I'm walking proof. I built my legacy in Baltimore and this is my third team.' "
Now Reed will have an opportunity to visit the one place he thought he'd always be. He'll return to Baltimore Sunday to face the defending Super Bowl champions -- but this time he'll be accompanied by former Ravens Rex Ryan, Dennis Thurman and Dawan Landry, a fellow safety.
"It's always special going back to Baltimore," said Reed, who spent 11 seasons there before returning to M&T Bank Stadium as a Texan during a 30-9 loss to the Ravens in Week 3.
But Reed -- who became a Jet after a surprisingly short seven-game stint in Houston -- said of Sunday's showdown: "It's a football game. It's a job that we're trying to get done, that they're trying to get done. So it's going to be fun."
Most people thought Reed would end his career in Baltimore. Everyone, that is, except the Ravens. "That did surprise me," Landry said after his Thursday meetings. "They were pretty much cleaning house after they won the Super Bowl.
"Ed's like a fixture of football in Baltimore. You can't picture the Ravens without Ed Reed, Ray Lewis," added the eight-year vet, who played alongside Reed for the bulk of five seasons in Baltimore. "Guys like that. I would have loved to see him finish his career there, but I'm just happy he's here now.''
So is Ryan.
The Jets, 0-4 in Baltimore since 2000, desperately need a bounce-back win after last week's blowout loss at Buffalo. And if the Jets (5-5) are to stand a chance against the vertical game of the Ravens (4-6), they'll need their secondary to be on point.
The black T-shirts that Reed, Antonio Cromartie and Josh Bush sported this week -- featuring a "WANTED" poster and a $20,000 ransom for footballs retrieved "in the air or on the ground" -- were playful reminders to be ballhawks at all times but to have fun in the process.
It was just one of many messages provided by Reed this week. More are sure to follow.
For years, he supplied sage advice within the Ravens' locker room and delivered crushing blows on the football field. Now he's charged with fixing the deep-ball deficiencies of Ryan's secondary. Three days after signing, Reed made his Jets debut.
"Right before the snap, [Ryan] was like, 'Hey, get out there!' " Reed said.
He feels at home having been reunited with Ryan, Thurman and Landry.
"It's kind of [nice] to see everything come full circle like this," said Landry, 30. "You never would expect it to happen like that. But it happened. I'm just glad for it. And we're just going to try to make the most of it."
Ryan has fond memories of his 10-year coaching stint with the Ravens, but he's turned the page on the past, too. "This is my team," he said of the Jets. " . . . Right now I'm focused on building those memories here."
And so is Reed, who went 0-7 during his stay in Houston.
Emotions surely will flow Sunday. But don't expect him to act differently.
"I've been with him through some tough times and things like that," Landry said. "But he's not a guy that comes out and just wears his emotions on his sleeve. I'm pretty sure he's just going to approach this game the same way.''
Landry, like Reed and Colon, never envisioned that his career would take him to the Jets. But as any veteran player knows, change is the only constant in the NFL.
"It's a business," said Landry, whom the Ravens traded to the Jaguars in 2011. "You always want to start where you finish. But the ups and downs of the business aspect of it, it's highly unlikely. I would've thought that somebody like Ed would have finished his career there.
"He's going to have a little emotion, but I don't think he'll show it . . . We just want to get a win."