Billick: J. Lewis' plea doesn't carry weight

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

Notebook

December 06, 2005|By BRENT JONES | BRENT JONES,SUN REPORTER

If Jamal Lewis is hoping to gain more carries by publicly lobbying his case - as he did again after the Ravens win over the Houston Texans on Sunday - it doesn't look like a strategy that will win over coach Brian Billick.

Billick, despite Lewis' pleas, has his own agenda, and that will include the same rotation of Lewis and Chester Taylor that has marked the season.

"It's really not a matter of keeping both guys happy," Billick said. "Believe me, if we thought there was a definitive answer on either one to do this or that, to change the way we are running the ball, we would do that. You've got two capable backs that do different things, and you try to access both of them and get them started."

Neither did much against the league's worst run defense in the Texans, and that was likely the source of Lewis' frustration afterward.

Lewis had eight carries for 17 yards, the seventh time this season he has been held under 50 yards. It was, however, the fewest carries he's had this year, prompting him to say he felt like he had "a leash around my neck."

He also said coming in and out of the game so frequently makes him feel like he is part of the song, "Hokey Pokey." Taylor's 11 carries was the second time this season he has received more attempts than Lewis.

Billick seemed unfazed by Lewis' comments.

"There are a lot of players and coaches right now where none of us are happy with our current situation," Billick said. "So what do I do now? How can I change that? Will you go out, work hard and try to change that situation?

"Whether a receiver and the number of catches he has, the playing time of some guys that think they can make a difference and want to play more on offense, defense or whatever it is; guys that want a platform to show what it is they think they can do in the next year - that is all the standard."

Lewis and Taylor are both set to be unrestricted free agents at the end of the season. It was generally assumed the Ravens would designate Lewis as their franchise player if they are unable to sign him to a long-term contract, but the subpar year might have altered the team's thinking.

Asked directly if the organization still has faith in Lewis, Billick said, "Much like the coaches' [future], to isolate it right now, to come up with that decision right now would be ill-advised. That's something we'll spend the offseason looking at."

One that worked out

One of the penalties Billick will live with was Derrick Mason's illegal block on Mark Clayton's run after the catch in the final minute of the game.

Mason hit cornerback Dunta Robinson in the back as Clayton was trying to get out of bounds at the Texans' 10-yard line. The penalty pushed the Ravens back to the Texans' 20, but Matt Stover was able to convert the 38-yard field goal.

Had it not been for Mason's block, Robinson had a chance to keep Clayton in bounds with 10 seconds left and the clock running.

Injury update

The Ravens placed cornerback Zach Norton on injured reserve. Norton will have to have surgery on his shoulder.

The Ravens also expect to have guard Keydrick Vincent (thigh) and cornerback Chris McAlister (thigh) available Sunday at Denver. The status of offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden will be determined later this week. Ogden hurt his hamstring in the first quarter against the Texans and did not return. Linebacker Mike Smith (hamstring) is doubtful for the Broncos game.

brent.jones@baltsun.com

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