Ravens' notes: Lewis has eyes on James

OWINGS MILLS -- Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning has gained Ray Lewis' attention and respect, but he's far from the sole focus of the Baltimore Ravens' intimidating middle linebacker. That's because of Colts All-Pro running back Edgerrin James' multi-dimensional capabilities.

James rushed for 1,548 yards last season, producing another 483 yards on 51 receptions. The former University of Miami standout wasn't nearly as productive, though, in a 20-10 win last December over Baltimore, gaining just 69 yards on 22 carries as Lewis shadowed him relentlessly.

"Edgerrin is one of those running backs that needs to be accounted for at all times on every play," said Lewis, another prominent fellow Hurricane. "Once you understand that, then you'll understand how to defend the Colts."

In all but two of the Colts' dozen regular-season wins last season, James carried the football 20 or more times. The Colts' all-time leading rusher averaged 107.3 yards per game in those victories.

Entering his seventh season, James has produced 7,720 rushing yards and 51 touchdowns along with 312 catches for 2,502 yards and 10 touchdowns.

It should be quite the matchup between James and Lewis as they'll likely collide on multiple snaps.

"I think they are both ultra-competitive guys," Colts coach Tony Dungy said. "They both play such key roles. Edgerrin is big in our attack as we get the running game going and dictate what the defense is going to do.

"Ray Lewis is obviously the guy that you have to find a way to get blocked. If you don't get blockers on him, he's going to make play after play. It should be fun to watch."

SIZE ADVANTAGE: Because rookie cornerback Marlin Jackson is questionable with a shoulder injury, it makes an already undersized Colts secondary even more vulnerable against the Ravens' imposing downfield targets.

Jason David (5-foot-8, 172 pounds) and Nick Harper (5-10, 182) are likely to start at cornerback, and Donald Strickland (5-10, 187) will act as the nickel back. Free safety Bob Sanders (5-8, 206) is a big hitter, but might be even shorter than his listed height.

David led the Colts last season with four interceptions and Harper registered three.

"We feel good about our corners," Dungy said.

The Ravens will attack those undersized defensive backs with 6-6, 220-pound wide receiver Clarence Moore, 6-3, 211-pound receiver Randy Hymes and 6-5, 252-pound tight end Todd Heap.

"We've got to hope that size shows up," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "They play pretty feisty and they know what their size situation is and do things to augment it. We have a pretty good group of size receivers. Hopefully, we can exploit it a little bit."

TRAINING ROOM: Wide receiver Devard Darling (quadriceps) was ruled out for Sunday, and the team downgraded offensive tackle Adam Terry (ankle) to doubtful on the injury report.

The Ravens added tight end Todd Heap (ankle), running back Jamal Lewis (ankle), fullback Ovie Mughelli (calf) and linebacker Bart Scott (ankle) as probable.

Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney practiced Friday despite a sore foot and is expected to start Sunday. Tight end Dallas Clark remains a question mark to play as he recovers from a concussion. Linebacker Rocky Calmus is out with a hamstring injury suffered Thursday.

SIMON SAYS: Signed by the Colts last week, former Pro Bowl defensive tackle Corey Simon is expected to be in the starting lineup. He'll likely be limited to 25 to 30 plays.

"I feel like Superman," Simon told Indianapolis reporters. "I feel like I can go all day, but it's not my deal."

Simon is only 6-foot-2, 293 pounds and his conditioning could be an issue after missing training camp. He's mostly known for his pass rushing presence inside.

"Having added Simon on the inside with what they bring on the outside, that's an outstanding front that you have to deal with," Billick said. "You've got to chip. You got to use your tight end. You better do it on both sides and you have to account for the guy inside as well."

QUICK HIT: Colts safety Gerome Sapp, who was cut by the Ravens last year, said he has no lingering bitterness. The Ravens initially were going to cut Corey Fuller, but Fuller talked the front office out of it by reminding them how he persuaded Deion Sanders to sign with the team.

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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