Ravens to honor former safety Ed Reed
For nearly a decade, Ed Reed was the measuring stick for NFL safeties.
Reed was drafted by the Ravens in the first round in 2002 and played 11 seasons for Baltimore before signing as a free agent with Houston. He also played briefly with the Jets in 2013, sat out the 2014 season, and retired after signing a one-day contract with the Ravens in May 2015.
''I knew what kind of player he was when I was coaching in Philadelphia and playing against him on special teams,'' said Ravens coach John Harbaugh, who won a Super Bowl ring with Reed's help following the 2012 season.
Reed was selected to play in nine Pro Bowls and was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2004. As Baltimore's last line of defense, he holds the NFL record for the two longest interception returns (106 yards in 2004 and 108 yards in 2008). He also holds the all-time NFL record for interception return yards (1,590).
''A pick-6 was a normality,'' Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco said. ''It was crazy how many times he was able to do that and make game-changing plays. It was pretty special. He's one of the guys that when things are all said and done, you're probably going to look back on and say, `Man, that was cool to be able to play with him for as long as I did and win with him and all those things.'
''Great player, great guy. Made it look easy.''`
CARDINALS CROWD: Sunday night's marquee matchup between Cincinnati (8-1) and Arizona (7-2) will be the 100th consecutive sellout for the Cardinals at their University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals have sold out every game there since the stadium opened in 2006.
The place, which almost always has the opaque retractable roof closed, is loud, inducing 132 accepted false start penalties since it opened. That's 11 more than the vaunted 12th Man in Seattle has during that span.
Overall, in their 10th season in the stadium, the Cardinals are 52-27, counting the postseason. They are 16-4 at home since Bruce Arians became coach.
The stadium playing surface has ranked best in the league under every NFL Players Association survey released since 2006. The natural grass surface is kept on rollers and slides outside into the Arizona sunshine when it's not being used for a game.
University of Phoenix Stadium has hosted two Super Bowls and the last nine Fiesta Bowls. The national college football championship game will be played there on Jan. 11, and the Final Four will be there in 2017. It's a far cry from the old days, when the Cardinals played to sparse crowds sitting on the metal bleachers in their many years at Arizona State's Sun Devil Stadium.
A Cardinals victory Sunday night will ensure a seventh non-losing season for the team since it began playing at UOP Stadium. Arizona had 16 losing seasons in its 18 years at Sun Devil Stadium.
''It's nice to have a different point of view. To come from corner and go to safety, you kind of really understand the dynamics of the coverage and what's going on,'' said Hall, whose team plays at Cam Newton's Carolina Panthers on Sunday. ''I enjoy it a lot.''
After missing 13 games last season with a twice-torn left Achilles tendon, Hall hurt his right big toe in Week 3 this season, and didn't return until last weekend against the Saints. With free-agent signing Chris Culliver and second-year player Bashaud Breeland playing well at cornerback, Washington decided to give Hall a look at free safety.
Hall, who turned 32 on Thursday, has 43 career interceptions.
''We'll kind of try to keep growing my knowledge and kind of seeing how much I can handle,'' he said. ''It's not just playing the post. Sometimes you've got to get in there and fill some run gaps and things like that. That's kind of the tricky part.''
He said he reached out to Oakland's Charles Woodson about making the move from cornerback to safety.
As for the biggest differences between the positions?
''At corner, everything happens so fast. You've got to be quick-trigger (and) you're worried about that one (receiver). Sometimes, if you're good, you can worry about him and the quarterback,'' Hall explained. ''But at free safety, you've got to worry about everybody on that offense, all 11. You've got to be the safety valve. If something pops, you've got to make the tackle. You're the last line of defense.''
BUNDLE UP: The Vikings have four more scheduled games at their temporary home at the University of Minnesota before they become an indoor team again in 2016, but that's plenty of time left to play in some wintry weather.
The regular-season finale is at Green Bay, too, on Jan. 3. Perhaps they'll host a playoff game or two at TCF Bank Stadium. The forecasts for Sunday afternoon for the game against the Packers, while mostly sunny, have the high temperature in the mid-30s.
With a sound, aggressive defense and the NFL rushing leader in Adrian Peterson, the Vikings are built as well as any team to thrive down the stretch. Peterson, the native of Texas, said he has recently begun mentally preparing himself.
''I told myself, `Hey, it's time to go ahead and switch the mode and start getting prepared for that,''' Peterson. ''I'll be ready. It'll be fun, and I think it'll work in our favor.''
Mathis said some people close to him expressed grave concern when they read a Detroit Free Press article describing his concussion as a brain injury.
''When you choose those words, referenced to concussions, people take it more seriously than they take a concussion,'' Mathis told reporters. ''That's one of the reason I'm standing in front of you. I wanted to address that publicly for my friends and family.''
Mathis had a concussion during a loss to Minnesota on Oct. 25, the 165th start of his career, and didn't play in the following game against Kansas City in London. Nearly two weeks later, the Lions put the 13-year veteran on injured reserve.
The 35-year-old Mathis has intercepted two passes in two-plus seasons with Detroit and after picking off 30 passes over 10 years with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He has one year left on his contract, but isn't ready to commit to coming back.
''I know there's life after football and I take that very seriously,'' Mathis said. ''I joke all the time I want to be on the golf course playing when I'm 80 years old, not laying in bed. That's a true statement even though I say it jokingly.''
AP Pro Football Writers Barry Wilner, Dave Campbell and Howard Fendrich, and Sports Writers David Ginsburg, Bob Baum and Larry Lage contributed to this notebook.
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