Ravens coach John Harbaugh says he was "surprised" that the NFL suspended safety Ed Reed for his hit Sunday night on Steelers WR Emmanuel Sanders. (US Presswire)

Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh said the news of Ed Reed’s suspension caught him by surprise on Monday afternoon.

Reed, Baltimore’s veteran free safety, was given a one-game suspension for repeated violations of player safety rules. On Sunday night against Pittsburgh, Reed’s helmet connected with Steelers WR Emmanuel Sanders’ head, which drew a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty.

The NFL decided to take action since this is the third time in three years that Reed has been reprimanded for a hit to the head. The first time came in 2010, when Reed hit Saints QB Drew Brees. The second came this year in Week 3, when Reed and Patriots WR Deion Branch bumped heads.

As far as the NFL is concerned, Reed’s third strike Sunday night was the final straw. Not only is he suspended, but he will not receive a game check, which would be valued at $423,529.

“I’m very surprised,” Harbaugh said. “I didn’t see that one coming.”

Harbaugh said the three aforementioned hits were all inadvertent and that Reed wasn’t looking to hurt any of the players he tackled high.

“None of those were with the intent to injure or to harm in any way,” Harbaugh said. “I think when you look at the hits, it’s pretty obvious. When you look at Ed, he respects the game, he respects the players.”

Harbaugh pointed to the hit against Branch in Week 3, where after the play, Reed and Branch shook hands and showed no animosity toward one another. Reed told Harbaugh that he plans to appeal the suspension immediately. The NFL has in turn told the Ravens that it will be heard quickly so that they will know by Wednesday whether Reed is available for gameplan preparation this week.

If Reed remains suspended, he will be unable to partake in any activities at the Baltimore practice facility during the week. Safety James Ihedigbo would likely fill Reed's role as a starter in Baltimore’s base defense.

In Baltimore's substitution package, S Sean Considine could possibly get some playing time if Reed is out against the Chargers. Ihedigbo has been used as a hybrid safety/linebacker in the sub package the last couple of weeks, and recorded a sack in that role against Pittsburgh Sunday night.

For now, it doesn’t look like Reed will be available when Baltimore travels to San Diego next week, though the Ravens are still holding out hope that the suspension will be overturned. For the year, Reed has 40 tackles, three interceptions and two fumble recoveries. Even with ailments to his shoulder, leg and neck, Reed is still regarded as one of the better free safeties in the NFL.

"If we don't have Ed, that's going to be a blow,” Harbaugh said.

Follow Ravens reporter Jason Butt on Twitter: @CBSRavens and @JasonButtCBS.