Billick says there's no rift with R. Lewis

Issues cleared up after talks going into Ravens minicamp

June 06, 2006|By JAMISON HENSLEY | JAMISON HENSLEY,SUN REPORTER

When the Ravens begin their mandatory minicamp today, there's uncertainty surrounding their quarterback situation and the lack of another legitimate starting safety.

But there are no such concerns about the Ravens' relationship with Ray Lewis, coach Brian Billick said.

After "several substantive talks" with the former All-Pro linebacker, Billick said no animosity exists, despite what many considered a troubling offseason. Lewis caused friction in April when he publicly criticized the Ravens.

"I have no doubt in my mind of Ray's commitment level to this team and to me," Billick said. "I have no doubt that he will do what he's always done, which is be right at the forefront of meetings, practices and games."

Lewis is scheduled to speak to the media tomorrow, which would be the first time he has addressed local reporters since October.

It was only two months ago when he broke his silence with all media, giving interviews to ESPN and Comcast SportsNet.

Lewis complained about the Ravens' defensive scheme to ESPN, saying the team didn't surround him with the personnel he needed to be dominant.

He then gave what appeared to be a vote of no confidence to Billick. Asked by Comcast SportsNet whether keeping Billick was a move in the right direction, Lewis responded by saying, "No comment."

"I'm very comfortable with those circumstances in how they came about and what his intentions were," Billick said. "Things aren't always as they are perceived."

According to Billick, Lewis told Comcast reporter Kelli Johnson before the interview that he would not answer any football-related questions whether it was about the team, his contract or Billick.

"That's a world of difference between the 10-second clip that you were shown," Billick said.

Johnson's version of the interview differs from the one given to Billick. She said Lewis never put any restrictions on their conversation.

"He couldn't have been more cordial and had quite a few comments about his situation and the Ravens. Then came the question about Billick and it was an immediate `no comment,' " Johnson said. "He knew the effect that his `no comment' would have when I asked the question."

Lewis, who had surgery on his hamstring in December, won't participate in drills this week as a "preventive" measure.

Center Mike Flynn (knee) will also be sidelined, and cornerback Samari Rolle (elbow) could be limited. Rolle injured himself recently while playing basketball against New York Giants receiver Plaxico Burress.

Notes -- During their extended wait for Steve McNair, the Ravens have been going with just two quarterbacks (Kyle Boller and Brian St. Pierre) for the first three weeks of spring camps. Drew Olson, an undrafted rookie quarterback out of UCLA, has been unable to attend workouts because of an NFL rule that limits a player to one minicamp with his pro team while his school is still in session. But the Ravens are "hopeful" that Olson will attend this week after completing his final exams early. "We're pushing it," Billick said. "We've got to be careful that we don't wear Kyle and Brian out." ... That rule will keep two of the Ravens' top draft picks - defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (first round) and receiver Demetrius Williams (fourth round) - from attending the next two weeks of camp because they withdrew from school and their class doesn't graduate until June 16. Both players are planning to return to the Ravens' facility after that point for some personal instruction from coaches that will last a week and a half. "They'll get what they can under their belt so it gives them something to work on as they go forward," Billick said.

jamison.hensley@baltsun.com

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