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Ed Reed's suspension 'surprising,' John Harbaugh says

Ed Reed's Sunday night hit on Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders drew an unnecessary roughness penalty but will cost the Baltimore Ravens much more than that.

The NFL suspended the veteran safety for one game without pay for what it labeled "repeated violations of the rule prohibiting hits to the head and neck area of defenseless players." Reed is banned from practicing this week and playing in Sunday's game against the San Diego Chargers.

"I didn't see that one coming, so it was surprising," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Monday, minutes after the league dropped the news.

The possibility of appealing the decision raises a sticky issue for the Ravens. Harbaugh acknowledged a worst-case scenario: If Reed appeals the suspension and delays the ban, the league might turn around and reaffirm its ruling in time for the Ravens' Week 13 rematch with the Steelers. Harbaugh believes that fate will be avoided.

"My understanding was (an appeal is) going to be heard very quickly for that reason, so we should have a decision by Wednesday," he said.

The NFL dropped the hammer following Reed's third violation over the past three seasons. The league is serious about tracking these hits and removing players from the landscape if they don't fall in line.

That's the NFL's concern. Baltimore's is ensuring Reed is on the field for a Pittsburgh game that ultimately might decide the rough-and-tumble AFC North.

UPDATE: NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said later Monday that Reed has notified the league he plans to appeal his suspension, and his case will be heard by Wednesday night by either Art Shell or Ted Cottrell,'s Steve Wyche reported.

Also, per rule, there is no "three-strike" limit in terms of repeated helmet-to-head-area hits. Discipline for repeat offenders is determined on a case-by-case basis, according to Aiello.

Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.

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