Two Ravens catch flak at passing camp

R. Lewis, Boulware skip voluntary workout

Billick is angered by no-shows

Coach: `We deserve better'

Linebackers' agent says officials were notified

Pro Football

May 21, 2002|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

The Ravens' passing camp opened with an unexpected linebacker blitz.

Ray Lewis and Peter Boulware were the only unscheduled no-shows at yesterday's workout, surprising and upsetting coach Brian Billick. Although the four-day session is voluntary, Billick was incensed that neither linebacker called to inform him about missing the practices.

"I am angry," Billick said. "I don't deserve to be treated this way. I'm very disappointed personally and professionally. Personally from the standpoint that we always conduct ourselves with great respect toward Ray and Peter. We deserve better than to not at least get a phone call. I'm owed a phone call.

"In the electronic age we live in, with all the gadgets we have out there, the least you could do is call."

Team officials said the absence of Lewis and Boulware is simply posturing by agents Eugene Parker and Roosevelt Barnes, who represent both players.

The sides are in talks to restructure the current contracts of the linebackers, which would extend their deals and provide immediate salary-cap room for the Ravens to pursue free-agent defensive tackle Sam Adams. Lewis is scheduled to earn $4.75 million in each of the final two years of his contract, and Boulware is expected to make $4.3 million in the last year of his deal.

But Barnes said last night that the Ravens are the ones who should be blamed for the lack of communication.

"I take issue when Brian Billick says he didn't know Ray or Peter was not going to be at the voluntary camp," Barnes said. "First of all, it is voluntary. Second of all, [director of football administration] Pat [Moriarty] and [senior vice president] Ozzie [Newsome] knew on Thursday. I called Pat specifically on Thursday.

"They are in the same building. There are some things as post-it notes and inter-office e-mail. I agree with Mr. Billick about one thing: In this high-tech era, he should have known."

Boulware declined to comment on whether skipping camp was connected to the negotiations.

"It's a voluntary camp and that's the attitude I'm taking," Boulware said from his car dealership in Florida. "Three weeks ago, I was at minicamp. But when I don't have to be there, I am going to be at my off-season job."

Lewis, who skipped last month's minicamp, was unavailable to comment.

While Billick said the deals are close to getting done, Barnes said there is still some ground to cover. Lewis' signing bonus - which could surpass Minnesota Vikings receiver Randy Moss' NFL-record $18 million - is believed to be one sticking point in the negotiations.

"When Mr. Billick says they have had an offer on the table for a long time, we have given him an offer which they have had for a long time," Barnes said. "We hope to get this resolved by training camp. They have said that it's their intentions to reward Ray and Peter and they have told that to other people in their building."

Billick indicated that the team is ready to pay Lewis and Boulware at their current contract figures, which would end any chances of retaining Adams.

According to league sources, Adams has been seeking a multiyear contract with a signing bonus of as much as $8 million but has found no club willing to pay that and likely will have to settle for less. Adams is also represented by Parker.

"We are prepared and are in a situation right now where we could go to war with what we've got, keeping in mind that both of these athletes are under contract," Billick said. "We are prepared for that and we knew that's what we might have to do. It's not in our best interest and it's not in their best interest. But we're prepared to do that."

Boulware said he would attend the team's only mandatory camp of the off-season, which runs from June 10 to 13.

"If it's mandatory, I'll be there," Boulware said.

But Billick is focused on how the absences affect the Ravens now. Without Boulware and Lewis, the team has just two returning starters - defensive end Michael McCrary and cornerback Chris McAlister - on defense.

"These young guys need veteran leadership," Billick said. "They need leadership that says that this team is important and what we do as a team is important. I know individually things have to be taken care of, but a lack of communication is the surest way to lose. These guys are going to have to learn.

"Make no mistake, this hurts the team. We'll recover, we'll deal with it. But this hurts this football team."

NOTES: The Ravens agreed to a one-year contract with cornerback James Trapp yesterday, which was believed to be worth the veteran minimum. A nickel back last season, Trapp could compete with Gary Baxter for the starting cornerback job. "I'm always pressing forward," the 10-year veteran said. "Everybody wants to be a starter. But I'm going to do what's required of me. I'm not going to ruffle any feathers. I'm going to make it a smooth transition for everybody." ... Offensive tackle Roman Oben, who is also represented by Barnes and Parker, agreed to a one-year, minimum base salary with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, rather than signing with the Ravens. ... Linebackers Shannon Taylor and Bart Scott replaced Boulware and Lewis on the first team.

Sun columnist Mike Preston contributed to this article.

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