Ravens defend against smugness

Adams now included in unit-wide message: Don't rest on laurels

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

Two days into his second mini-camp with the Ravens, veteran Sam Adams had little difficulty distinguishing his Seattle Seahawks past from the present.

"It's a totally different philosophy," Adams said yesterday. "In Seattle, they don't attack. Here, they attack. That's it in a nutshell."

Adams, entering his seventh NFL season, is the biggest change in the Ravens' defense. Signed on draft day to a four-year, $20 million contract, he stabilized a defensive front that tentatively had lost tackles Larry Webster (to a substance-abuse suspension) and Tony Siragusa (to a contract dispute).

Two months later, Webster's suspension is on appeal, Siragusa is participating in minicamp, and the team's defense looks grittier than ever.

The Ravens have virtually accomplished coach Brian Billick's goal of keeping their second-ranked defense intact. Now the question is complacency. And Marvin Lewis, the defensive coordinator, has been working to eradicate that.

"One of the biggest problems in sports is complacency," Lewis said. "That's one of the things I talk to the guys about all the time. It's human nature to be complacent."

The Ravens appear to be listening.

"It's a matter of doing what we did last year, but not being happy with what we did last year," said defensive end Mike McCrary. "We don't want to get satisfied and think we don't have to put the effort in.

"The past couple of years, we haven't really lost anybody. You can only get better that way, and that's hard to do in the NFL today because of free agency."

Siragusa's arrival in camp this week was encouraging news in that light. The 11-year veteran skipped a mandatory minicamp last April when negotiations over a contract extension broke down. In the final season of a four-year deal, Siragusa wants to upgrade his $1.5 million salary in 2000.

He reported to this week's voluntary camp after the Ravens said they would not renew negotiations unless he showed up. Yesterday, he participated in team drills for the first time, and moved well despite carrying extra poundage.

"The main reason for me coming back is [defensive line coach] Rex Ryan asked me personally, as a personal favor," Siragusa said. "From one fat guy to another fat guy, I figured I'd do it."

Later in the day, Siragusa decided to delay contract negotiations until next week.

"He didn't want the deal to become a distraction," said his agent, Terry Lavenstein. "He's here to play football and get in football shape."

Siragusa declined to say whether he'd report to training camp on July 23, however, without a new deal.

If the Siragusa contract flap can be resolved, the Ravens are in position to maintain or improve on their No. 2 rush defense, as well.

"He is a run-stopper," McCrary said. "He takes up two blockers. He makes a huge difference. Then you've got Sam and Lional [Dalton], and that's a lot of beef up front."

In some instances, perhaps too much beef. Billick acknowledged that both Adams, weighing in at more than 300, and Siragusa, weighing in at more than 340, must lose weight by training camp.

"Sam is always going to look like he's on the heavy side," Billick said. "What belies that is the fact you watch him in team drills and he's moving around pretty good. [But] he needs to be smaller."

Said Lewis: "Sam can be an exceptional player, but it's up to Sam."

The defense can be exceptional, too.

"Our front seven is as good as anybody," Lewis said. "Our secondary is better. And we've got great depth. That's the key to everything."

Depth and work ethic, that is.

"The potential of our defense is directly correlated to how hard we work and how bad we want it," said linebacker Peter Boulware. "We can be as good as we want to be. I don't think there's any limit to how good we can be."

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