"I love Hines as a player, and I told him that," Reed told The Baltimore Sun at his football camp last week. "But I told him also for a long time, 'You're a dirty player because I know how you play.' "
Ward is infamous for his penchant to blindside defenders with crack-back blocks. Reed has publicly commented about it in the past, as have other players around the NFL.
Reed and Ward are plenty familiar with each other. Ward has been with the Steelers since 1998, while Reed has helped anchor the Ravens' defense since 2002. The AFC North rivals have engaged in numerous showdowns in the regular season and the playoffs, with Reed and Ward tackling each other to the ground on the first play of Pittsburgh's victory in January's AFC Divisional Playoffs.
"Ed and I, we have our battles," Ward said after that game, according to The Sun. "No disrespect to Ed, he probably takes it personal. If Ed takes it personal, so be it."
Shelling out hard hits is part of what it takes to excel at strong safety. Reed, a seven-time All-Pro at the position, acknowledges he certainly has dished out his share, but he believes there's a fine line that shouldn't be crossed.
"I always play the game a certain way, regardless of what guys say," he said. "I've given some shots out there, but even those shots have been to where the guy can get up. I play a position where I know I have kill shots. I can really hurt somebody if I wanted to."
This isn't the first criticism that Ward has received from a Raven this offseason. Earlier this month, Ward was ripped by Baltimore running back Ray Rice after the receiver was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence.