Ravens brace for Reed’s return with Texans

On a day when the Ravens induct linebacker Ray Lewis into their

Ring of Honor, another former member of the team’s esteemed defense

makes his return to Baltimore.

The circumstances will be vastly different.

Lewis retired in February after leading the Ravens (1-1) to

their second Super Bowl victory. He will be hailed Sunday for a

sensational 17-year career and for spending all of it in

Baltimore.

Ed Reed was also a key player on the 2012 world champions, and

for 11 years he served as a standout free safety with the Ravens.

On Sunday, he will be the enemy.

Reed and the Ravens failed to agree to terms during the

offseason, so the franchise career interception leader signed as a

free agent with Houston. After missing two games with an ailing

hip, the 35-year-old Reed is expected to make his debut with the

Texans (2-0) on Sunday.

”I’m feeling a lot better and trying to push it a little bit

more to see exactly how I feel if I go full throttle,” Reed said

Thursday, acknowledging his availability will be a game-time

decision.

Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco can hardly imagine what it’s going

to be like to see Reed in a Houston uniform.

”I knew Ed Reed as a Baltimore Raven before I started playing

on the Baltimore Ravens,” said Flacco, now in his sixth season.

”We’ve faced old teammates before. But the fact that all the fans

know him as a Baltimore Raven, and the fact that I was a fan of his

at one point, yeah, it probably makes it a little bit

different.”

Reed harbors no ill will toward the Ravens for letting him

walk.

”There’s no bad blood on either side,” he said. ”I know how

this business works.”

Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata said, ”He moved on, and we

moved on.”

Reed can’t wait to see his old friends in Baltimore.

”I never thought I’d be in these shoes,” he said. ”But it’s

an awesome feeling to go back to see my brothers, see coaches and

just talk about football. I know we’re going to talk about football

and just family in the short period of time we can kind of catch

up

Here are five things to know about Ravens-Texans:

CLOSE CALL: After two straight games decided on the final play,

the Texans would love a lopsided win. Something like last year’s

43-13 rout of the Ravens would do quite nicely.

In that game, Houston had four sacks and two interceptions.

Baltimore coach John Harbaugh would prefer to forget that debacle,

but he was forced to pull out the tape this week.

”You have to watch it,” Harbaugh said. ”We watched it very

carefully to see how they attacked us and what they did to play the

type of game they did against us.”

STARS INJURED: Ravens running back Ray Rice was held out of

practice after straining his left hip flexor in last week’s 14-6

win over Cleveland. His status for Sunday is questionable.

If Rice can’t go, Bernard Pierce will get the call.

Houston wide receiver Andre Johnson sustained a concussion

during a 30-24 overtime win over Tennessee, but is expected to

start. He has 29 catches and two TDs in four regular-season games

against Baltimore.

HOME SWEET HOME: The Ravens are 34-7 at home under Harbaugh,

including 22-3 over the last three-plus seasons. Houston is 0-3

against Baltimore on the road, including a 20-13 playoff defeat in

January 2012.

”That’s a tough place to play and it’s my understanding they’re

retiring Ray (Lewis’) jersey or something on game day,” coach Gary

Kubiak said. ”I’m sure that will add to the emotions, so we better

stay focused.”

SACK HAPPY: Houston’s top priority on offense will be to protect

quarterback Matt Schaub from Baltimore sack specialists Terrell

Suggs and Elvis Dumervil. Between them, they have 152 career

sacks.

”It’s a very tough combination,” said Schaub, who has been

sacked only four times this season. ”You can’t slide your

protection one way or the other. You’ve got to be honest on both

sides.”

BUDDING RIVALRY: This will be the fifth game between the teams

since the start of the 2010 season, and it’s beginning to feel like

a grudge match.

”We have played in some good football games with them,” Kubiak

said. ”I don’t expect this to be any different.”

Houston linebacker Brian Cushing added, ”We’re two competitive

teams. Whether we’re playing here or there, we know it’s going to

be a very good football game.”

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org