Ravens to Be Targeting Lewis

RB Jamal Lewis is a marked man as the Ravens come into town...

When the Ravens play at the Cleveland Browns, they will be targeting running back Jamal Lewis, especially after the latest comments by their former teammate.

In a conference call with Baltimore reporters, Jamal Lewis said he has an edge over other running backs because he knows the strengths and weaknesses of the defensive players.

The Ravens offered a quick and emotional rebuttal.

"I do know this: If he touches the football, it's going to be more than one person hitting him. Jamal knows there are no weaknesses," Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis said. "You can pretend there's a weakness if you want to run at our corners and our secondary. Jamal knows who he has to deal with. So if there's a weakness, tell him to come and find it. We'll be waiting for him Sunday when we get there."

The Ravens cut Jamal Lewis on Feb. 28 before they had to give him a $5 million roster bonus. Seven days later, Lewis signed a one-year, $3.5 million deal with the Browns after passing on the Ravens' one-year, $2 million offer.

"I really didn't want to come back honestly," Jamal Lewis said. "It was more of a business move. You could tell that I didn't fit into that scheme anymore because of what (coach Brian) Billick wanted to do and the offense he wanted to run. It was no hard feelings. It was the fact that I'm a runner and I like to be utilized in many different ways and it wasn't happening there."

Jamal Lewis said he doesn't hold a personal grudge with Billick, although their relationship had eroded over the years. In his last years with the Ravens, Lewis continually complained about his lack of carries.

"I have nothing against him," Lewis said. "But it kind of leaves a sour taste in your mouth a little bit when you don't really fit into this offensive scheme anymore and you're trying to do something else."

Picked fifth overall in the 2000 NFL draft, Lewis rushed for 7,801 yards for the Ravens and scored 45 touchdowns.

The pinnacle of his career came in 2003, when he gained 2,066 yards, the second-highest season total in NFL history. He was named the league's Offensive Player of the Year and was selected to his only Pro Bowl.

During the 2000 Super Bowl season, Lewis carried a lethargic offense in the stretch run. In the final two months of the season, he averaged 119 yards rushing and accounted for nearly half the team's offensive production.

But there were tough times for Lewis, too.

In the 2001 training camp, he suffered a season-ending knee injury, which severely hurt the Ravens' chances of repeating as Super Bowl champions.

Then, in October 2004, Lewis pleaded guilty to using a cell phone to try to set up a cocaine deal four years earlier. He served a four-month term in federal prison and spent two months in a halfway house.

In his last two seasons with the Ravens, Lewis had not been the same running back, averaging less than 4.0 yards a carry. He was criticized for hesitating when reaching the line of scrimmage and lacking breakaway speed.

"We made an organizational decision of what's available, what was the money and who else was out there," Billick said. "Willis McGahee came to the market and we felt like that was something worth pursuing and we did and we're thrilled to have Willis."

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