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Ed Reed drawing a host of suitors despite age, injury concerns

By Matt Rybaltowski | CBSSports.com

(Video courtesy: 82perk)

In the 2011 NFL Playoffs, Ed Reed ended any legitimate chance the Houston Texans had at advancing to the AFC Championship with a late interception of T.J. Yates inside the two-minute mark of the fourth quarter.

Poised to tie the game at 20-all, the Texans advanced inside the Baltimore 40-yard line when Yates tried to connect with Andre Johnson on a fly pattern down the right sideline. Shaded toward the middle of the field, Reed intently watched Yates' eyes, quickly covered ground (see video above at 4:08) and went airborne to make a one-handed pick.

More than 12 months later, Houston has expressed interest in signing the 2004 AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year. On Thursday, the Texans will host the eight-time All-Pro Ravens' safety, according to CBSSports.com NFL Insider Jason La Canfora. Reed could also meet with the 49ers and Colts, La Canfora reported.

In spite of Reed's Hall of Fame credentials, questions persist on whether his speed and ball-hawking abilities have diminished, as he enters his 12th NFL season. In Super Bowl XLVII, Reed briefly left the game after his knee collided with Vernon Davis' leg in the first quarter. Reed, 35, started all 16 regular-season games in 2012, despite revealing in mid-October that he played through a torn labrum in his shoulder. The former University of Miami safety missed the first six games of the 2010 season with a hip injury and sat out four games a season earlier with an injured groin. Reed has also dealt with a nerve impingement in his neck over the latter stages of his career.

Through it all, Reed has earned the respect of his peers for the warrior mentality he brings to the field. In the playoff win over the Texans two seasons ago, several of Reed's teammates carried him off the field after he played through a leg injury.

“I never came out of a game unless I was truly hurt,” Reed told the Baltimore Sun last September. “When you've been playing the game for so long it can take a toll on your body…That's what we're putting on the line, and that's what our argument is as players when we're doing negotiations.”

Concerns on Reed's durability could explain why entered this week as the No. 69-ranked player in CBSSports.com's list of the top 100 free agents in the Class of 2013. Reed, though, is the top-ranked, untagged safety on the board after the signings of William Moore, Dashon Goldson and George Wilson. The Bills placed the franchise tag on Jairus Byrd on March 1.

The scheduled meeting in Houston comes one day after the Texans lost promising young safety Glover Quin to the Lions on Wednesday. The Texans are roughly $11 million under the salary cap, according to Spotrac.com, after the release of former wide receiver Kevin Walter this week. Last season, Houston ranked 16th in the league against the pass, surrendering an average of 225.8 yards per game.

The 49ers, meanwhile, have a void in their secondary after two-time Pro Bowl safety Dashon Goldson signed with the Bucs on Wednesday. With Reed's range and instinctiveness, he could assume the same role Goldson had over the last two seasons under defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. It could allow Donte Whitner to focus more on stopping the run, which is arguably the strongest aspect of his game.

If Reed signs with the Colts, he will be reunited with Chuck Pagano, his former secondary coach and defensive coordinator in Baltimore. Reed's relationship with Pagano dates back to the mid-1990s when Pagano recruited him out of Destrehan High School (La.). Reed was a consensus first-team All-American in 2000 during Pagano's final season as the Hurricanes' defensive backs coach.

Reed, who had 58 tackles and four tackles in 2012, is so close with Pagano that he practically considers him a father figure. Days before the Ravens' AFC Divisional Playoffs win over the Colts, Reed described the impact Pagano's battle with Leukemia had on him.

"With all that Chuck and I have been through, and with him being my old coach, him knowing me so well and me growing up around him, and him being part of my family, it is going to be special," Reed told USA Today Sports.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our RSS Feed, watch Pro Football 360 daily at 3 p.m. ET and NFL newsletter. You can also follow Matt Rybaltowski @mattrybaltowski.

 
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