R. Lewis likes pieces Ravens have added

Linebacker is pleased with K. Johnson, Edwards

Pro Football

May 13, 2004|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

Three days before Ray Lewis walks across the stage to accept his degree in business administration from the University of Maryland, the Ravens linebacker touched on a hodgepodge of subjects yesterday during a news conference at the team's training facility.

In his longest public interview since the Ravens were bounced out of the playoffs by the Tennessee Titans in January, Lewis gave his stamp of approval to the team's two major offseason moves.

The Ravens traded for wide receiver Kevin Johnson, who likely will be a starter, and drafted defensive tackle Dwan Edwards with their first overall pick in the second round.

FOR THE RECORD - An article in yesterday's editions about Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis' forthcoming graduation incorrectly reported the university and the degree. Lewis will graduate from the University of Maryland University College with a bachelor of science degree in management studies. The Sun regrets the error.

"I think we've done a couple of great things," Lewis said. "I think we've pieced together what we really needed to piece together, and I think that is going to help us a lot. With the energy this team is bringing together, we can go make a move."

Lewis also talked about his quest to keep his title as the NFL's best defensive player, the Terrell Owens fiasco and opening the season against the Cleveland Browns.

Despite finishing up his final class the past few months, Lewis has spent time in Florida training for the 2004 season. He will skip next week's passing camp but will participate in the team's mandatory minicamp next month.

"This season is going to be scary because it is probably going to be one of my best seasons ever," Lewis said. "When you are dealing with my shape, my mentality and everything I'm believing in right now, my thing is to be the greatest ever - not linebacker, [but] greatest ever."

The other subjects:

Lewis on having to face Owens after actively trying to persuade him to join the Ravens: "What did he do against us when he was in San Francisco? What's the difference if he's in a Philly uniform?

"If I'm correct, he might have had two to three catches at best. So with my defense right now, there are not too many people we are going to give that much respect to. He's a guy we've already handled.

"You can have an individual be a superstar if he wants to, but if they don't believe in your chemistry, it will never work. That's one of the main reasons why I think Terrell Owens saw he wouldn't fit it. We're a family."

Lewis on his health after offseason thumb surgery (Lewis chose not to bowl in his own charity tournament last week):

"I'll be ready. I didn't want to do nothing to re-injure it again, definitely with a bowling ball."

Lewis on the improvements the Cleveland Browns have made:

"I don't disrespect Cleveland, but Cleveland just doesn't have enough right now. That's as simple as it gets. It's a lot of togetherness that you have to go through before you reach great, even before you reach good as a team. Just by having big names over there means nothing. I saw Jeff Garcia, and he's done nothing against us."

Lewis on this season's goals:

"It's the Super Bowl. Why would it be anything else? The playoffs, we've seen it. We know what it tastes like. I didn't like the way it tasted after we lost to Tennessee, especially on my own turf. That's just things you don't do. But it happened, deal with it and move on."

NOTES: Two veteran sheriff's deputies have been fired for guarding the home of Ravens defensive back Corey Fuller while a high-stakes gambling operation was taking place in Tallahassee, Fla. Although the deputies had permission to do the job, John Johnson and Derrick Conyers were fired after an internal investigation concluded they had ignored their own suspicions about what was happening inside the house. Johnson had been with the department for 10 years and Conyers for 17. ... Ravens officials maintained the team has no interest in signing former New York Giants quarterback Kerry Collins. ... Adalius Thomas will host his first annual charity golf tournament tomorrow, with proceeds going to the Sportsmen Lifting Academics and Sponsoring Hope foundation. The tournament will be held at Woodlands Golf Course. For information, call 410-365-4920.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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