Alongside linebacker Ray Lewis, safety Ed Reed helped define a Baltimore Ravens defense that won a pair of championships and was always regarded as one of the best in the league.
Last season's Super Bowl victory marked the end of the road as teammates for Reed and Lewis. The two will get a chance to reunite this Sunday, though, when Reed's Houston Texans battle the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium after Lewis is inducted into Baltimore's Ring of Honor.
While Lewis retired after capping his 17-year career with another title, Reed joined the Texans as an unrestricted free agent in March. He has yet to play this season as he recovers from offseason hip surgery, but Houston head coach Gary Kubiak noted on Monday that Reed was very close to playing in Sunday's 30-24 overtime victory against Tennessee.
The 35-year-old Reed was the 2004 Defensive Player of the Year and a nine-time Pro Bowl selection over 11 seasons with the Ravens. He logged 606 tackles, six sacks and 61 interceptions, returning seven for touchdowns.
"We'll have to assume that he is going to play. We'd be surprised if he didn't play in this game, and we'll have to assume he's going to play the way he's played in the past," said Ravens head coach John Harbaugh.
Lewis, now an analyst for ESPN, will be honored prior to Sunday's game. The MVP of Super Bowl XXXV won a pair of Defensive Player of the Year awards over his career, spent entirely with Baltimore, and logged 41 1/2 sacks, 31 interceptions and 13 Pro Bowl selections.
The Ravens hope that Lewis' presence will spark them against the Texans, who have needed to rally in both of their wins this season. After coming back from a club-record 21 points down in Week 1 to defeat San Diego, Houston got a one- yard touchdown run and two-point conversion from Arian Foster with 1:53 left in the fourth quarter this past weekend to force overtime against the Titans.
The Texans then drove down the field in the bonus frame and secured their four straight 2-0 start when quarterback Matt Schaub found DeAndre Hopkins in the back of the end zone from three yards out.
"It was a great ball by Schaub. He put it in the perfect position for me to go up and catch it," Hopkins said. "We practice that basically every day, the wide receivers. And practice makes perfect."
Schaub threw for 298 yards with three touchdowns and was picked off twice, while Hopkins made seven catches for 117 yards. He stepped up with No. 1 wideout Andre Johnson out with a concussion suffered late in the fourth quarter.
"It's just great character for us to find a way to win two weeks in a row like that," said Kubiak, whose club won its first five games last year. "Obviously, you're not going to get away with that in this league. I think this is a very good football team that we just played. I think they played extremely well. And we are very fortunate to get out of here with another win today."
Johnson caught eight passes for 76 yards before his exit and Kubiak said on Monday that his wideout's status for this game won't be determined until later in the week as he follows concussion protocol.
"But I think, after the game talking to him and seeing where he's at today, obviously he's doing really well," Kubiak added. "I would expect the progress to go pretty quickly if it goes like it has the last 24 hours."
The Ravens also lost a key player to injury on Sunday as Ray Rice left a 14-6 win over the Cleveland Browns to a hip flexor strain in the fourth quarter.