Ravens short of going full speed

Jamal Lewis is held out of first full-contact drill

Reed remains unsigned

July 30, 2002|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

The first full-contact practice of Ravens training camp ended with Jamal Lewis leaving untouched and first-round pick Ed Reed remaining unsigned.

Lewis, who is returning from major knee surgery, was held out of no-holds-barred hitting drills yesterday as a precautionary measure. Although the running back has been cleared physically to practice, the Ravens are worried about wearing him down at his current weight.

Team officials want Lewis to lower his body fat to 8 percent, which amounts to losing 10 pounds off his 245-pound frame.

"Jamal's got to get in shape," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "You see this all the time. A guy that was very focused on rehab, and then isn't in the cardiovascular shape he should be. And it's hard because you're really focused on rehabbing an injury.

"His weight is a little high. We want to get him down into better shape so that he doesn't get into a position where out of fatigue he can't protect himself."

Lewis, one of the team's irreplaceable parts, didn't argue with Billick.

The Ravens, though, will evaluate Lewis' status and there is a long-shot chance of allowing him to participate in contact drills today. But more than likely, he will have to wait until tomorrow to take his first hit since blowing out his left knee on Aug. 8.

The team has already ruled out playing Lewis in Friday's intrasquad scrimmage and will give backups Chester Taylor and Tellis Redmon the majority of snaps. Ravens officials project Lewis to go three to four plays in the first preseason game and double his time for the second and third games.

The goal is to have him in full game shape for the preseason finale on Aug. 29.

"I didn't try to fight him on [participating in contact drills]," Lewis said. "I have to get into better condition and get in the swing of things. I'm getting used to running and taking licks a little bit in throwing periods. I feel real good. I've just got to be ready by the 29th."

While Lewis is on pace to be ready by that time, the team is growing more concerned about the progress of Reed, their starting free safety whose holdout has reached five days.

A league source confirmed yesterday that the sides have agreed on a five-year, $6.2 million deal which could reach between $8.2 million to $8.7 million with incentives. However, the sticking point to signing the contract is how to interpret the upfront money for the 24th overall pick.

According to the source, the Ravens are offering $3.6 million while Reed's agent wants $3.765 million - a difference of $165,000. The Ravens suggest their offer falls into the 24th slot as far as the signing and option bonuses given to the 23rd and 25th picks. But Reed's agents consider their asking price to fall into the 24th slot in terms of signing bonuses, option bonuses and report bonuses.

Under the league's slotting system, Reed should receive less than the 23rd pick - Oakland linebacker Napoleon Harris - who got a $3.775 million bonus ($3 million to sign along with a $775,000 bonus next spring), and more than the 25th pick - New Orleans defensive end Charles Grant - who got a $3.75 million bonus ($1.8 million to sign combined with $1.65 million bonus next spring and $300,000 report bonus). But the Ravens see Grant's up-front money as $3.45 million if you take away the report bonus.

"Ed's hurting himself and he's hurting this football team," Billick said. "That's either important to him or it's not. I'm not going to hold the veiled threat of `If he's not in here, he may not start for us.' He should be the starter the minute he walks back in. The longer he goes, the tougher that makes it.

"And for the difference that we're talking about, it's unfortunate."

Said Reed's agent, Jeff Moorad: "Ed Reed has his bags packed and is ready to head north to Baltimore. We continue to struggle with the structural aspects of the deal. Although we can't look into a crystal ball, it is our hope that with minimal reflection that the Ravens will see to it to make adjustments."

The frustration of having one of the league's nine unsigned first-round picks has been increasing for Billick.

On Saturday, Billick joked about his only missing player by saying, "I'll send him a postcard." When asked what he would send Reed yesterday, Billick paused and said, "I'm not going to waste a stamp."

But yesterday wasn't a wasted day for Lewis. The 22-year-old back ran hard in the two-hour morning practice and pounded the blocking dummy afterward.

Jamal Lewis even beat linebacker Ray Lewis in one passing drill, outrunning him to the end zone. Not bad for a player who suited up in pads for the first time in 11 months.

"It was a test for me to see what I could do from the first minicamp we had to now," Jamal Lewis said. "The pads are pretty heavy. Just putting pressure on the leg and being able to cut and everything, overall I think I did pretty good."

The Ravens stressed that keeping Lewis out of the full-contact, 11-on-11 drills shouldn't be construed as a setback.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.