From Nemesis to Teammate?

The Owl surveys rumors concerning the possibility of Ravens RB Jamal Lewis heading to the Browns. The rumors have legs, says the Owl...

If the Browns want to truly be a running football team next season, The Owl has the perfect backfield for Charlie Frye. We're talking Reuben Droughns and Jamal Lewis.

Lewis has apparently worn out his welcome in Baltimore. He says he gets no respect from head coach Brian Billick. The man who set a record by rushing for 295 yards in one game against the Browns, and 205 in the second game against them in 2003, has gained rushed for 638 yards all season. He said he has not spoken with Billick in weeks.

"No, I don't get that respect, I guess," Lewis said about not talking with Billick before or after rushing for just 17 yards on eight carries in a 16-15 win over the Texans Dec. 4. He did not have one carry in Denver last week. "I talk to Coach Simon (running backs coach Matt Simon), and that's it. That's who I deal with. He gives me a heads up on how things are going to go. Beyond those discussions, I have to go in blind and don't really know what's going on."

Billick doesn't want to hear Lewis whine. Of course, he might not have say on Lewis's future because he could be looking for a job on Jan. 2, just as Lewis could be looking for a new team March 1. The Ravens are 4-9 and need to start over - not that The Owl wants them to succeed. In fact, we recommend a contract extension for Kyle Boller, who probably could not start on a flag football team sponsored by Pete's Ice Cream Shop.

"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?"

Rumors continue about Lewis winding up with the Browns. The rumors have legs because former Ravens front office exec Phil Savage is the Browns general manager.

Lewis and Chester Taylor are both free agents after this season, and the Ravens are trying to decide which one to keep. Lewis is making $3.58 million in base salary this season. Savage cannot talk about interest in Lewis because Lewis is still under contract with the Ravens.

To say Lewis had a tough winter after the 2004 season is an understatement. He spent four months in a federal prison and two months in a halfway house after a plea bargain in a cocaine conspiracy, in which he used his cell phone to set up a deal. On top of that he had to recover from ankle surgery.

Lewis, 5-11, 245 pounds, is averaging just 3.1 yards a carry and 17 carries a game this year. What the Browns - and other teams - have to decide is whether Lewis will continue to be the player he has been in 2005 or whether he can regain the form that produced 5,563 yards in just four seasons.

Lewis is only 26, but he has carried the ball 1,442 times already. That has to be a concern. He wants to be a No. 1 back, and that would be a concern, too, because Droughns will be looking for a big pay day after the season he has had. But Lewis could become Jerome Bettis with the Browns. He and Droughns could make the Browns dominant offensively.

Add tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. and Braylon Edwards to that and just think how the Browns could move the ball, how they could score, and, ultimately, how they could control the clock.

The biggest holes on this team are defensive ones. They can be filled with a successful draft. Getting better on offense, and ruling time of possession, would be a giant step in being better defensively.

The OBR Top Stories