Reed deal not Ravens' only priority

OWINGS MILLS – Referencing the stringent guidelines of the salary cap while alluding to pending negotiations with running back Jamal Lewis and tight end Todd Heap, Baltimore Ravens coach Brian Billick indirectly delivered a message Tuesday to safety Ed Reed.

Be patient and get in line behind Lewis and Heap, whose contracts expire after this season.

Reed, who isn't attending the Ravens' voluntary passing camp, has two years remaining on his rookie contract and is slated to make $550,000 in base salary this season.

"The cap requires, it demands, it dictates that you close on one house before you close on the next," Billick said. "We can't change that, we can't alter that. You hope the players and representation understand that. Sometimes, they do. Sometimes, they don't.

"Sometimes, they choose not to. We have to show the proper respect to the players whose contracts it's time to be redone, and we'll do that in the proper order that they need to be done."

The reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Reed intercepted nine passes last season and set league records with 358 interception return yards and a 106-yard interception return.

Billick, who expressed surprise Monday that Reed wasn't at the Ravens' training complex after meeting with him last week, emphasized several times that the camp isn't mandatory. He noted that Reed and linebacker Ray Lewis, who's also not attending, didn't attend last year's passing camp.

There have been reports that Reed will hold out of training camp if he doesn't receive a new contract, which the Ravens have said is news to them. Reed's agent, Scott Parker, didn't return telephone calls.

When asked whether he was optimistic about eventually signing Reed to an extension, Billick replied: "We've made it very clear: Ed Reed will have a contract. Ed Reed is going to be a Raven and he'll report. I haven't had anybody, anybody, tell me that that's an issue."

LEWIS UPDATE: Running back Jamal Lewis has been frequently visited by team personnel in federal prison in Pensacola, Fla., while he serves a four-month sentence for a drug charge.

Lewis is scheduled to be released June 2 according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons database, and then must fulfill a two-month obligation at a halfway house.

Lewis was recently visited by owner Steve Bisciotti, general manager Ozzie Newsome, running backs coach Matt Simon and fullback Alan Ricard. Simon said that Lewis gets up at 6 a.m. for daily workouts, fulfills work detail requirements and regularly checks out books from the prison library.

"We've had constant communication," Billick said. "Everybody who has been down there has come back just thrilled with Jamal's attitude, how he looks, how he feels about himself and the circumstances across the board.

"That's got to be a life-altering experience. Based on what I understand, visiting those that have been face-to-face with him, it's been a very positive experience as best it can under those circumstances."

CARTER PROGRESSING: Nickel back Dale Carter continues to impress the coaching staff after missing all of last season with a blood clot in his lungs.

Carter anticipated a Kyle Boller pass for an interception. He also showed off his recovery speed and balance in chasing down wideout Randy Hymes to bat down a pass in the end zone with his left hand.

"I couldn't even imagine being at this point right now," Carter said. "It's like riding a bicycle. You fall off and get right back on. It just took longer for me because of the situation I endured."

QUICK HITS: Cornerback Chris McAlister, who primarily watched practice Monday after undergoing toe surgery earlier this year, took part in team drills without incident. … Wide receiver Clarence Moore missed practice with a strained neck, but said it isn't serious. … Phil Zacharias, a defensive assistant for the last three years, is no longer on the coaching staff. ... A group of nearly 40 Ravens attended a screening of "The Longest Yard" Tuesday at the AMC Owings Mills.

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

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