Health favorite topic as Ravens huddle again

Boulware healing well

Banks puts on muscle

March 14, 2000|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,SUN STAFF

Peter Boulware's shoulder felt better, Jermaine Lewis' legs felt stronger and Tony Banks said he felt bigger.

That was on Day One of the Ravens' 16-week off-season workout program yesterday, a day devoted to renewal and reunion.

It was a day when linebacker Ray Lewis, under indictment on double-murder charges, appeared for an early-morning workout, a day when tight end Shannon Sharpe, the team's biggest free-agent signee, did not.

Boulware, rehabilitating his surgically repaired right shoulder, spent part of the morning catching up with such linebacker buddies as Lewis, Brad Jackson and Jamie Sharper. "It was good to see friends," he said.

Banks, the team's incumbent starting quarterback, spoke with Ray Lewis, but said he avoided the subject of legal proceedings.

"He sounds confident on what's going on with him," Banks said. "I'm sure everybody's talking to him about his situation. I just talked to him about football. I'm sure he's tired of talking about that [impending trial]."

If the season started today, the Ravens would have to find replacements for two of their starting linebackers. But Boulware said his shoulder is coming along nicely, with no need to rush rehab.

"I'm progressing at a very good rate," said Boulware, who earned his second straight Pro Bowl invitation last season despite playing with a shoulder dislocation that required a restrictive harness.

"My flexibility is coming back like I wanted it to come back," he said. "Everything is going the way it should be going."

Boulware, who first hurt the shoulder in midseason two years ago and again in June minicamp last summer, had surgery five weeks ago. He said he has no pain, but continues to do stretching exercises to break up the tightness in the shoulder.

"I'm going to go slow and take it as it feels," he said. "There's nothing to rush back into. There's plenty of time."

Jermaine Lewis, the Ravens' fifth-year wide receiver, has dedicated his off-season to getting stronger, especially in his lower body.

"I'm stronger than I've ever been," the former Maryland star said. "My legs were kind of weak in the middle of last season. My Achilles' [tendon] felt weak. This year, I want to get my legs a lot stronger."

Lewis, Boulware and Banks are among a contingent of 30-some players expected to participate in the first week of the weightlifting and running program, conducted by strength and conditioning coach Jeff Friday.

The expectation, Friday said, is that the Ravens will average about 40 or more players per week in the program. Three days are given to working on some 60 pieces of Hammer, Nautilus or Cybex machines, and two days are allocated for cardiovascular work.

Sharpe, signed in February, is expected to join the workouts in April. Ray Lewis, meanwhile, has been a regular working out at the team's facility.

"The goal is to work the whole body to prevent injury and enhance performance," Friday said. "We're looking to get them in the best possible shape in minimal time."

Friday said Banks looked bigger than last year. The quarterback concurred.

"I feel bigger," he said. "I'm trying to get stronger, put on a few pounds. I'm trying to get my quickness back to what I had a few years ago."

This is Banks' first time through Friday's off-season program -- he was obtained from the St. Louis Rams during last April's draft -- but is quick to discern the difference in programs.

"I think [former Rams coach] Dick Vermeil demanded a lot more heads show up," Banks said. "Coach [Brian] Billick treats us more like men. I think a lot of us appreciate that, because we all know what it takes to get ready in this business."

There is one other important change in Banks' life. He is getting married April 22.

"It's not big news," he said, pausing momentarily for the punch line. "I've still got a few shopping days left."

NOTES: Ravens president David Modell is completing negotiations with Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder for a preseason scrimmage between the two teams July 28 at FedEx Field. Vice president of player personnel Ozzie Newsome said the status of on-hold negotiations with the New York Jets over wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson "hasn't changed." The Ravens received a signed contract from quarterback Trent Dilfer, who agreed to one-year, $1 million terms Wednesday. The Ravens have scheduled a minicamp for April 28-30.

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