That's why Harbaugh believes Reed will be suited up to play his former team Sunday, when the Ravens meet the Houston Texans at M&T Bank Stadium. Reed tested out his surgically repaired hip before the Texans' game Sunday in pregame warmups before ultimately deciding to sit out his second straight game.
"We'll have to assume that he's going to play," Harbaugh said. "We'd be surprised if he didn't play in this game."
Reed, 35, went to nine Pro Bowls during his 11 seasons with the Ravens and was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2004. He holds the NFL record for the two longest interception returns (106 yards in 2004 and 108 yards in 2008). He also is the all-time league leader for interception return yards (1,506) and postseason interceptions (nine).
Reed left the Ravens to sign with the Texans in free agency six months ago, agreeing to a three-year, $15 million contract that included $6 million guaranteed.
For years, Harbaugh saw how teams would have to game plan for Reed and how he changed games. Now, the Ravens have to figure out a way to attack Reed if he's on the field Sunday.
"It's a little tougher because we haven't seen him on tape, so we really don't know how he fits into their defense," Harbaugh said. "We'll have to fit him into their scheme, which in a lot of ways is similar to what we've done here. It shouldn't be too hard to figure out where he's going to be. We'll just kind of envision him out there playing the way he's played for us all of those years."
The return of Reed coincides with the Ravens inducting linebacker Ray Lewis into the team's Ring of Honor. Lewis and Reed were the longtime faces of the Ravens' dominant defenses. Lewis retired after last season, which culminated in a Super Bowl title.
"It'll be great to see Ray for us," Harbaugh said. "I don't know how emotional we'll be about that. We'll be emotional about the game and we'll feel great about Ray being here for that. It's a great honor. It's something we'll all take pride in. Maybe Ray will be ready to give us a little fire-up talk."