Linebacker Brown shooting gap


With Boulware mending, backup comes on strong

Je. Lewis number-proud Pro Football

June 14, 2000|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

While Peter Boulware rests, Cornell Brown continues to put himself to a test.

Brown has stepped in at strong-side linebacker for Boulware, a Pro Bowl performer who had off-season shoulder surgery. Boulware won't suit up until training camp, and Brown has made the most of his audition over the past three camps.

"It's like show-and-tell," said Brown, the Ravens' 1997 sixth-round draft pick out of Virginia Tech. "I got to show that [in] those three years I've learned a lot and that I can put it to work in my fourth year here.

"I want to show that I can compete with the first-team guys, keep their intensity going and do what we normally do as a defensive unit without dropping off. Hopefully, that will make them feel more confident with me."

Brown has done this before, starting five games last season for an injured Boulware and recording 11 tackles the last two games of the season.

Although they play the same position, Brown and Boulware give the Ravens different looks. Boulware specializes as one of the NFL's top pass rushers, while Brown enjoys thumping running backs.

"Cornell has really worked himself into a position where he's a guy we believe we can count on," linebackers coach Jack Del Rio said. "He did well filling in well for Pete and really gives us a level of comfort with a guy we know can step in and get the job done."

Numbers game

Jermaine Lewis may have a change of attitude this season, but not a change of wardrobe.

The former star receiver for the University of Maryland is still wearing No. 84, while the team's top free-agent pickup, tight end Shannon Sharpe, has gone with No. 2.

Sharpe, who had No. 84 for the past decade in Denver, offered Lewis two Rolex watches in exchange for his old number when he signed with the Ravens. Lewis turned down that trade, and Sharpe hasn't brought up the subject again.

So, would Lewis ever consider giving up No. 84?

"I feel pretty comfortable in 84," he said. "That's all I have to say about it."

End zone

The Ravens tendered weak-side linebacker Jamie Sharper a one-year contract in February, but the team's second-leading tackler said he is looking for a longer-term deal before signing. Sharper is the Ravens' last remaining restricted free agent and seems eager to stay with the team for an extended period. ... Qadry Ismail, the Ravens' top receiver last season, fielded punts along with Lewis. ... The United Way kicked off a fund-raising campaign yesterday by inviting 75 companies to watch the last 30 minutes of practice and attend a luncheon on the artificial-turf field.

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