J. Lewis preparing for heavy workload vs. Colts

OWINGS MILLS -- Jamal Lewis danced for a few minutes around the topic of his sore right ankle and how that might limit his availability before committing to his likely path: a significant workload. <br><br> The Baltimore Ravens' bruising running back was initially noncommittal on his status for Sunday night's game against the Indianapolis Colts. He's officially listed as questionable and missed a portion of practice Thursday.

Lewis became much more decisive when asked whether he could handle a full-time role on the RCA Dome artificial turf in a game that's pivotal to the Ravens' wild-card outlook.

"If that's what I'm called upon, 30 times, 35 times, I can do it," Lewis said. "There's no problem as long as I can stay in there and stay hot, I'll be fine."

Lewis missed two games with the sprained ankle before easing back into the lineup last week against the New York Giants with eight rushes for 32 yards. Backup runner Chester Taylor has rushed for 100 yards in consecutive weeks and is likely to play a lot against Indianapolis, according to Lewis.

Lewis acknowledged that his ankle still bothers him and that he has some difficulty cutting, although he claims to be unconcerned about operating on outdated, rock-hard turf.

"I'm a running back, not a wide receiver, I'm not just going down the field in a straight line," Lewis said. "If I had to run in a straight line, I would be fine. I would be great, but personally I have to cut and make moves.

"Sometimes, it's kind of hard. My ankle is my bread and butter. That's what I run on."

Besides grinding out yards to move the chains, one of Lewis' primary responsibilities is to keep Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, who handed him the football at the University of Tennessee, watching from the sidelines. A ball-control approach in an effort to create superior time of possession is central to the Ravens' game plan.

"Of course, that's my main goal," Lewis said. "I'm trying to keep Peyton off the field and try to run the ball effectively and take control of the clock."

Meanwhile, the Colts are looking to race to a quick lead and effectively neutralize Lewis by forcing Baltimore to employ quarterback Kyle Boller more than usual. Indianapolis ranks 29th in total defense, 20th against the run.

The Ravens are 21-5, including playoffs, when Lewis rushes for 100 or more yards. Baltimore is 6-0 when Lewis has 30 or more carries.

"Hopefully, we can get ahead and take him out of the game that way," Colts coach Tony Dungy said. "He can do some unbelievable things for a back his size with his feet and his quickness in the hole. If he gets 30 carries, it's going to be a tough day for us."

It has been an extremely trying year for Lewis.
He was suspended for two games for violating the NFL substance-abuse policy, and was fined four game checks for nearly $761,000 in lost salary. As a result of his plea bargain in a federal drug conspiracy case, Lewis will serve four months in a federal prison and two months in a halfway house following the season.

He has rushed for a career-low 683 yards one season removed from a 2,066-yard campaign where he was named the NFL Offensive Player of the Year.

"It really hasn't affected me mentally," Lewis said. "That's football. Things are going to come up. This is the main time. It's all on this game. We're close to the playoffs."

As well as a being a long time contributor to RavensInsider, Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.

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