Anderson may play fullback

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

He, J. Lewis could be in at same time

Notebook

August 04, 2006|By EDWARD LEE | EDWARD LEE,SUN REPORTER

During the offseason, the expectation among Ravens fans was that Jamal Lewis would be the starting running back and Mike Anderson would be the backup.

But the Ravens unveiled a new wrinkle during training camp this week in Westminster by positioning Anderson in the fullback role in a few 11-on-11 drills.

The possibility of a Lewis-Anderson backfield in a single play is not far-fetched, according to running backs coach Tony Nathan.

"That's in the plans, that's in the works," said Nathan, a former running back for the Miami Dolphins. "It can happen."

When the Ravens acquired Anderson on March 12 as a free agent from the Denver Broncos, the thought was that Anderson, who rushed for 1,014 yards on 239 carries and 12 touchdowns, would be the team's featured back. But a day later, the organization re-signed Lewis and coach Brian Billick tapped Lewis, who gained a career-low 906 yards on 269 attempts and three touchdowns, to be the starter.

And Musa Smith, the Ravens' third-round draft choice in 2003, has been receiving increased repetitions with the first-team offense.

Playing fullback is not unfamiliar to Anderson, who filled that role in 2002 and 2003. While a part of him may hunger to return to last year's script, Anderson said his first priority is helping Lewis and the team win games.

"We're a team, we're teammates," Anderson said. "To me, the way I look at it is we push each other day in and day out to make each other better, and we learn from each other. I bring my experience and my knowledge of things here, and he brings his to the table. We work together and share that information just to make us better."

Lewis echoed that sentiment, adding, "I just think it's a good one-two punch. We've got Steve McNair back there throwing the ball, and I think we're going to have a more balanced approach this year. It's no big deal, but you have two good running backs in the backfield."

Cody sprains ankle

Linebacker Dan Cody sprained ligaments in his right ankle during yesterday's morning practice and is listed as day-to-day.

A few players, including cornerback Chris McAlister, wide receiver Rufus Skillern and safety Steve Paris, missed the morning session, but coach Brian Billick said their absences weren't because of injuries.

"These guys are moving in and out of practice right now," he said. "[Cornerback] Samari [Rolle] took yesterday off, Chris today. Chris has been working very hard. He's in good shape."

Billick of old

It took until Day 7 of training camp for Billick to briefly ditch his new conservative persona.

Back to his animated and verbose self, Billick responded to a recent article addressing the team's play-calling, saying there is no new changes to the Ravens' system. Billick insisted in his first big rant of camp that offensive coordinator Jim Fassel has always called every play.

"The old Brian just showed up a little bit," Billick said.

New rules

Several NFL officials visited the team hotel to discuss rule changes for the upcoming season.

Some of those changes included reducing the time for a video review to 60 seconds from 90 seconds, the ability of coaches to ask officials to examine plays ruled down by contact, and the prohibition of rushing defenders to hit quarterbacks who have established themselves as passers below the knee.

In addition, a return team can now consider assessing the enforcement of a penalty on the kick or punt team at the end of the run, and it will be illegal for a player to use the football, the goal post, the end zone marker or any other prop to celebrate a touchdown.

End zone

Billick promised to take 15 minutes off the special teams practice yesterday if Matt Stover converted a 48-yard field goal. Stover drilled the attempt. "I hit it nice and easy," he said. ... Cody Gelvar, 13, of Pikesville presented a check for $1,000 and several instruments to offensive guard Edwin Mulitalo and his charity Big Ed's Band Foundation.

edward.lee@baltsun.com

Sun reporter Jamison Hensley contributed to this article.

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