J. Lewis picks up where he left off Strong preseason effort carries over with 2 TDs, 73 yards in receptions

September 01, 1997|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,SUN STAFF

Jermaine Lewis showed yesterday that training camp does mean something.

After leading the team with 15 catches during the preseason, Lewis showed that performance wasn't a fluke by catching four for 73 yards and two touchdowns, including a 42-yard strike, in the season opener.

He wound up with 215 all-purpose yards because he also returned four kicks for 118 yards, three punts for 19 yards and ran a reverse for five.

He couldn't really savor it because the Ravens lost to the Jaguars, 28-27.

"I feel like I could have done something more. That's the main thing: To try to get the win at the end of the game. We had some opportunities where we didn't take advantage of them," he said.

If one game is any indication, though, Lewis is going to accomplish a lot this year.

He came to camp trying to win the No. 3 receiver job, and accomplished that feat. Since the Ravens opened the game in a three-wide set and played it virtually the entire time yesterday, Lewis has become a full-time player.

"During camp, I was getting a lot of passes every day. I was noticing a lot of balls were coming my way. I wanted to be the No. 3 receiver. I didn't want to sit on the sidelines. I want to play. That was my whole goal of the off-season -- just work hard so you can go out there and play," he said.

He added: "You set your goals and want to accomplish them. I just want to go here every game and play hard and give it everything I've got."

He was coy, though, about what exactly his goals are. He wouldn't say whether they include a certain number of catches or yards.

"Just little things that motivate myself," he said. "Not a number or nothing. I don't want to give away my goals."

As for the game: "It was definitely a confidence booster. I had a good preseason, but it doesn't count. I wanted to come out and have a good regular season and start if off right. I think this helps my confidence out a lot. It proves I can play."

He was the main receiver on the first touchdown catch, a 17-yarder in the second period, when he ran a corner route and easily beat the defender.

On the second one, quarterback Vinny Testaverde called an audible and Lewis broke free for a 42-yard catch.

"Jermaine's an explosive player and he's only going to improve," Testaverde said. "He's only going to improve with the more experience he gets. With that, he's going to make Michael [Jackson] and Derrick [Alexander] on the outside become better receivers."

The quarterback said the game plan didn't emphasize Lewis.

"The game plan was to see how they came out and played," Testaverde said. "We always have progressions in each play. Some of the calls were for Jermaine first and he did some good things for us and he's going to continue to do that."

Testaverde said they practiced the play during the week on the audible when the Jaguars showed man, bump-and-run coverage.

"It was drawn up just like we practiced it," he said.

Jackson also saluted Lewis' play, saying the effort helped him make eight catches.

"Jermaine's a speed guy," he said. "Maybe Jacksonville didn't think about him before the game. After the first half, they had to take note that Jermaine was in the game and he was a factor. It kind of opened things up and we had more one-on-one coverage outside."

Pub Date: 9/01/97

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