Ravens to be cautious with J.Lewis

OWINGS MILLS – Three days before kickoff against the New Orleans Saints, the Baltimore Ravens are taking a cautious approach with running back Jamal Lewis.

Under a best-case scenario, Lewis would take four to five carries Friday night. However, Ravens coach Brian Billick stressed that the team is going to gauge how the former Pro Bowl runner responds in practice this week before making a final determination.

The 2003 NFL Offensive Player of the Year underwent surgery on his right ankle in February and still has scar tissue to break up.

"He's still in a training mode," Billick said of Lewis, who missed the first week of training camp while fulfilling legal obligations of his federal prison sentence. "I just want to be very careful that we proceed in the right way with him."

Lewis, 25, appears excited about the prospect of making his preseason debut this week, but his top priority obviously is preparing for the Sept. 11 season-opener against the Indianapolis Colts.

"I'll touch the field when Jamal Lewis is ready," Lewis said. "If that's this weekend, that's this weekend. If that's next weekend, that's next weekend.

"I guarantee you I'll be out there Sept. 11. I'm not counting myself out right now. I'll probably know [today] or Thursday."

Added running backs coach Matt Simon following Tuesday's practice: "We're never going to know for sure until we get closer to game time. I think Jamal is trying to be conservative and Brian is trying to be positive without being overly optimistic. We don't want to put him at risk."

TRAINING ROOM: Tight end Todd Heap made it through his first padded practice without incident.

Although Heap was activated Monday from the physically unable to perform list, he won't play this week after undergoing ankle and shoulder surgeries in the offseason.

"Right now, physically, it's my shoulder," said Heap, who underwent shoulder surgery in April. "That's what I need the most work on. I'm looking forward to taking a few pops.

"Everybody that I've talked to has said the same thing: that taking hits isn't going to be the big thing. I feel like the strength's back. It's the mobility. It takes some time."

Fullback Alan Ricard (calf strain) returned to practice, but was limited in some drills and said he'll be a game-time decision. Center Mike Flynn (knee) practiced and is getting accustomed to playing with a knee brace. Cornerback Samari Rolle (knee) and recently-signed linebacker Peter Boulware have been ruled out.

QUOTABLE: Quarterback Kyle Boller on his approach after throwing two interceptions and fumbling in a loss to the Philadelphia Eagles: "It's definitely not a panic mode. It may seem like a panic mode, but it's only our second preseason game. I'm not going to go out and be timid and not throw balls because I'm scared to throw interceptions because people are going to boo me. I'm going to put in long hours to make sure I have the game plan down to make sure I don't make the same mistakes."

REED UPDATE: General manager Ozzie Newsome indicated that a contract extension for Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed is not imminent. When asked if a deal could be completed as soon as this week, Newsome said, "No, that would be false."

Reed has two remaining years on his rookie contract, and is slated to make $581,250 this season. Reed's agent, Eugene Mato, didn't return telephone calls.

QUICK HITS: Boller indicated that he'll play into the third quarter in New Orleans after playing one half last week. ... Following the death of his father Monday, offensive guard Edwin Mulitalo remains with his family in Utah. "You try to recognize that these players have personal lives," Billick said. "You try to be supportive of that. Edwin has to balance that with his professional obligations. We will support him in any form and fashion we can." … Billick is nonplused about the work of kickoff specialist candidates Rhys Lloyd and Owen Pochman. "Based on what I saw the other night, not real well," Billick said. "So, it's going to have to be a whole lot better." ... Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich attended practice as a guest of owner Steve Bisciotti.

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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