- Tania Ganguli, ESPN Staff Writer
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BALTIMORE -- The sound was familiar to safety Ed Reed, but it wasn't one he expected to hear in this stadium again.
"Reeeeeeeeeeeed," serenaded Ravens fans as the Houston Texans safety jogged onto the field.
"So much love and the memories I have here in this city," Reed said. "Like family, man. They'll always be there. It's something you cherish as a player. Not everybody gets that welcome. Not everybody gets that welcome when you come back."
Reed, playing his first game since arthroscopic hip surgery in April, got the start for his new team -- and it came in Baltimore, the city where he spent the first 11 seasons of his career. The Texans lost the game 30-9 with two touchdowns coming from the Ravens' defense and special teams.
After signing with the Texans in March, Reed had surgery to repair a torn labrum. He missed all of the Texans' offseason workouts and spent training camp on the physically unable to perform list. He traveled to San Diego in Week 1 but didn't play. He told Texans coach Gary Kubiak before the Texans' Week 2 matchup against the Tennessee Titans that he could play, but Kubiak opted for caution.
This week, the nine-time Pro Bowler was ready and returned on a limited basis, with coaches sticking to a play count that Reed agreed to prior to the game.
"As a player you get a little frustrated," Reed said. "Coach pulled me out I was like, 'Whoa whoa whoa, what's going on.' Totally forgot about the play count. When I did come out they threw it right where I was at. I was like, 'What was going on?'"
The ball didn't come Reed's way much, as he had a quiet return with three tackles and none of the spectacular, ball-hawking plays he used to make while in Baltimore. And he noticed that as soon as he left the game, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco threw it right where he had been.
"We broke the huddle on the first play of the game and I saw him," Flacco said. "And from then on out, I didn't pay too much attention to him. On a couple of plays, I tried to give him a double couple look-offs. I purposely, though, didn't pay too much attention to him after that first play."
When the game finished with Reed's old team having bested his new one, Ravens players and coaches made their feelings known. Ravens coach John Harbaugh told Reed he's still "got it."
Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs suggested to Reed that he had arrived trying to ruin former Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis' return. Lewis, now an ESPN analyst, was inducted into the Ravens' ring of honor at halftime.
"I know the guy's a weirdo," Reed said of Suggs. "He made a comment about me coming back trying to play this game and make interceptions, rain on Ray's parade. … After the game he said that. He's a -- he's a -- just a guy."
Ravens safety James Ihedigbo, the man called upon to replace Reed in Baltimore, sought wisdom.
"He is such a player that always has wisdom to show on you," Ihedigbo said. "In talking to him, he continued to encourage me as a player and he has helped so much in terms of my development as a safety. I thanked him for that, and I told him I loved him. It was good to see him, and that he's continuing to do his own thing -- being Ed Reed."
As he walked off the field, a group of fans waited to say goodbye near the Texans' tunnel. Reed knew his new team was waiting for him and didn't want to hold it up any longer. The last Texan to leave the field stopped before he left to tell O.J. Brigance, a Houston native and the Ravens' senior adviser to player development, that he loved him.
"You want to win," Reed said a few minutes later. "I didn't come here to lose. When you do lose it's what you do to pull yourself up. What are you going to do next week, going forward?"
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1dEric D. Williams