R. Lewis savors taste of team's MVP honor Alternate-pick linebacker likely to go to Pro Bowl

Notebook

December 18, 1997|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

Middle linebacker Ray Lewis passed out cigars to each of his defensive teammates after practice yesterday, two days after being named the team's Most Valuable Player at a Quarterback Club awards dinner.

Members of the Baltimore media ranked five finalists -- Lewis, offensive tackles Jonathan Ogden and Orlando Brown, linebacker Peter Boulware and defensive end Michael McCrary.

Lewis was visibly moved when his name was announced at the dinner.

"The people I was up against did some great things this year," Lewis said. "Peter and Mac and Zeus [Brown] had real good years. Jonathan had a fantastic year. I knew it could be a tough decision. I didn't want to get my hopes up too high, again."

Last week, Lewis narrowly missed making his first Pro Bowl, though he leads the NFL in tackles and needs only seven against Cincinnati on Sunday to crack the 200-tackle mark.

But Lewis may well end up in Hawaii next month. San Diego linebacker Junior Seau, one of the elected Pro Bowl starters, suffered a sprained knee against Kansas City last week. As the first alternate, Lewis would take Seau's place if he sits out the Pro Bowl with an injury.

"There's no question [Lewis] is one of the best middle linebackers in football," Cincinnati quarterback Boomer Esiason said. "He's a budding superstar."

Morris case postponed

A preliminary hearing on assault charges against Ravens running back Bam Morris was postponed yesterday in Catonsville after prosecutors asked for more time to prepare their case.

Morris is accused of trying to choke a woman at a private birthday party for teammate Orlando Brown on Nov. 16. According to the police report, April Dawn Brittain was attacked by Morris after an argument with Morris' wife, Stephanie, who accused Brittain of having an affair with the player.

A postponement of the hearing was arranged by both sides, hours before attorneys appeared in court before Judge Alexander Wright.

Morris was therefore excused from attending the brief court session. He instead practiced with the Ravens.

Another court date was not set, but Morris' attorney maintained hope that the case would never go to trial.

"When I have somebody who is innocent, I always ask for the charges to be dropped," William Murphy III said.

Steve Bailey, assistant state's attorney for Baltimore County, insisted that Brittain would have her day in court.

"I'm not going to comment on the evidence, but we are preparing for the case to go forward," he said.

Daniel keeps teaching

Even though he has not played for the last three games due to hamstring and thigh injuries and is listed as questionable for the season finale, 14-year veteran cornerback Eugene Daniel continues to be a valuable addition.

Daniel, who joined the team three months ago and eventually started six games, had a calming effect on the young secondary. The way cornerback Antonio Langham sees it, Daniel's influence continues on the sideline.

"He brought a lot of knowledge with him, and one thing he taught us along with [safety] Stevon [Moore] is how to communicate with each other on every play. Down and distance situations, that kind of stuff. He's taught us how to play much smarter," Langham said.

"Since he's been out of the pads, he's been more like a coach. Sometimes, you can't get everything from your position coach. Sometimes, you get more from a guy who's actually been out there."

Alternative Christmas

Punter Greg Montgomery helped the Ravens get into the holiday spirit by decorating a 3-foot Christmas tree in his unusual way.

The tree, sitting atop an overturned wastebasket, is graced by mug shots of numerous players and team officials cut from the media guide. Also included is a Vinny Testaverde figurine hanging by its neck. Then there is the top ornament, an action picture of safety Bennie Thompson, in which Thompson's head has been replaced by that of a mule.

Montgomery even included a few gifts under the tree -- two packs of chewing tobacco, a jar of metabolic enhancers and a container of antihistamine.

Miscellaneous

If the Ravens beat Cincinnati to finish 7-8-1 and the Tennessee Oilers lose to the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers, the Ravens will finish third in the AFC Central. If the Ravens lose on Sunday, they will finish last in the division. Esiason pulled no punches while criticizing the attitude of some of the younger Bengals: "We have some people who just don't get it, from Wednesday to Sunday. They pull out their press clippings too much. We have a lot of one-year wonders. There's too much dead weight not holding their end of the bargain. We're a team that possesses playoff-caliber talent, but I wonder if some of the players possess playoff-caliber heart." McCrary (knee), defensive tackle Tony Siragusa (hand), defensive end Rob Burnett (ankle), running back Tony Vinson (thigh), cornerback Eugene Daniel (thigh) and linebacker Cornell Brown (thigh) did not practice.

Pub Date: 12/18/97

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