Ja. Lewis: Student to teacher


2nd-year running back now mentor to Barnes

Pro Football

April 30, 2001|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

Jamal Lewis is younger than the player he is supposed to mentor.

Lewis, 21, is a year behind Ravens' fifth-round pick Chris Barnes, but a year older in NFL age. With the departure of veteran Priest Holmes, Lewis has become the Ravens' most experienced running back, the one others will have to turn to for leadership.

"I feel like I can help them out a lot," Lewis said. "I've been playing in the league a year, but I know this position and know what's going on. We got [running backs] coach [Matt] Simon and he's a big talker, so I don't think I have to do too much. I just try and lead by example on the field."

Barnes, who rushed for 1,131 yards last season at New Mexico State, interacted with Lewis for the first time at this weekend's three-day minicamp.

"It's been great working with Jamal," Barnes said. "He's been in the same situation I was in just a year ago.

"That's going to be critical for me to have someone tell me how things operate around here. He's already done it, and I'm trying to do it."

Lewis said Holmes helped him out greatly last year. Holmes was the starter much of the previous two seasons before losing his job to Lewis after the second game last year. Holmes signed a free-agent contract with the Kansas City Chiefs.

"Priest had a lot of years and veteran experience," said coach Brian Billick. "But Jamal having been through what he's been through will be a great resource for Chris."

Barnes, at 6 feet and 209 pounds, has a similar running style to the 5-11, 231-pound Lewis. Lewis, who left Tennessee after his junior season and was one of the Ravens' first-round picks a year ago, set a club record with 1,364 yards.

"Everything is going pretty good right now," Lewis said. "The young guys are looking pretty good. Hopefully we can have that 1-2 combination like we did last year with me and Priest."

Warm welcome for Grbac

Elvis Grbac is finding out that being the big-name, free-agent quarterback has its privileges.

For starters, teammates want to hang out with him.

"This is an easy crowd in this locker room," Grbac said. "I'm getting to know some of the guys, especially some of the veteran guys. You walk in and the guys introduce themselves, defensively and offensively. I've been going out to dinner the last couple of nights with all different types of guys. It's been a good showing, and it shows out there on the field.

"If you are an out-of-towner like myself, it's nice to have guys who will pick you up and take you to dinner and take you around. It shows the maturity factor of this team."

Grbac said he was also able to make some strides on the field with the Ravens' receivers over the weekend.

"It takes a couple of throws to get your timing down and rhythm down with certain players," Grbac said. "As we go into May, June and July, the timing and rhythm of the pass patterns will get a lot better."

P. Johnson runs iffy route

With Travis Taylor coming back from injury and Brandon Stokley heading into his third season, wide receiver Patrick Johnson will have to perform exceptionally well to hold off the challenges.

Johnson started nine games last season and the Super Bowl.

"All I can control is what I can control," Johnson said. "The coaches are going to do what they are going to do. I'll just be happy with whatever they do.

"I have one more year left, and if they want to keep me after this year, then they will. Or if I want to be here after this year, I will. If I don't want to be here or they don't want me here, then I won't."

Et cetera

The Ravens will next hold a passing camp May 14-17. ... Center Casey Rabach (illness) and cornerback Duane Starks (shoulder) missed yesterday's practice.

Ravens schedule

May 14-17: Passing camp

June 4-7: Passing camp

June 11-14: Veterans camp

July 29-Aug. 23: Training camp

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