New deals for 3 Ravens possibly in works

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

Moriarty to have meeting on R. Lewis, Heap, Baxter

Ravens notebook

Pro Football

September 25, 2004|By Mike Preston and Brent Jones | Mike Preston and Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

The Ravens' director of football administration - Pat Moriarty - is expected to meet with agent David Dunn today in possible preliminary talks about the contracts of three prominent players.

Moriarty confirmed yesterday he will meet with Dunn in Cincinnati. Dunn represents inside linebacker Ray Lewis, tight end Todd Heap and cornerback Gary Baxter.

Only Baxter is a free agent at the end of the season. Heap has two years remaining on his contract, including this season. Lewis has four.

It's conceivable the Ravens could end up offering all three players new contracts.

Dunn declined to comment, and Lewis did not return phone calls yesterday. But according to team sources, Lewis wants a new deal with the club going into next season, and this could be a "feeling out" meeting between the two sides.

"All I know as of right now is that the meeting is about all three of his clients," said Moriarty. "As of now, there is nothing specific, and this might be about a gamut of things like Heap's ankle injury and Gary being in the final year of his contract."

Before the team makes any moves, the Ravens would like to have deals completed with Pro Bowl left offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden and cornerback Chris McAlister. There are ongoing talks between both sides, and Ogden is considered the top priority.

Ogden, in his ninth season, has three years remaining on his contract, while McAlister has been designated the franchise player the past two years. The Ravens could use salary cap room next season because several starters, including Baxter, linebacker Ed Hartwell, offensive lineman Casey Rabach, offensive lineman Bennie Anderson and receiver Travis Taylor are free agents.

Injury report

Nose guard Kelly Gregg (knee) and cornerback Deion Sanders (hamstring) did not practice yesterday, decreasing the likelihood that either will play tomorrow against the Bengals. Sanders is still questionable. Gregg was downgraded to doubtful.

"[Gregg] is right there with Deion," Ravens coach Brian Billick said.

Heap (ankle) and Taylor (thigh) were downgraded from doubtful to out. Tackle Ethan Brooks (knee) was downgraded to doubtful. Receiver Devard Darling (heel) was added to the injury report.

Wilcox on spot

After spending most of his previous three seasons in the shadows, third tight end Daniel Wilcox was front and center this week standing before the media fielding questions.

Wilcox and Terry Jones will have to replace the production of Heap for at least two games as the Pro Bowl tight end recovers from his ankle injury.

For Wilcox, that means providing a downfield receiving threat. Wilcox has three catches for 22 yards this season.

"I was basically a starter in NFL Europe [this summer]," Wilcox said. "All that work over there just helped me build my mind [and be] ready for a starting role again. Since I've been here, I've been playing so much that this feels like just another game for me."

C. Taylor: more of same

Chester Taylor rushed for a career-high 76 yards on nine carries against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but do not expect his role to increase.

Even with starter Jamal Lewis averaging 2.7 yards a carry in the first two games, Billick has a specific way he wants to use Taylor.

"In the way that Chester has always done for us," Billick said. "Chester is part of the rotation.

"Of course, having said that, the minute I [use him more], you're going to say, `Why isn't Jamal carrying the ball more? Why isn't Kyle [Boller] throwing the ball more?' I've got to run about 120 snaps a game to get you all satisfied, but I'll try."

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