Ravens' J. Lewis: 'I don't get that respect'

OWINGS MILLS -- In his latest disclosure regarding his season of discontent, Baltimore Ravens running back Jamal Lewis said he hasn't spoken to Ravens coach Brian Billick in weeks. Lewis, who has gained a career-low 638 yards, said he primarily discusses his dwindling role with running backs coach Matt Simon.

"No, I don't get that respect, I guess," Lewis said when asked if he talked with Billick before or after being limited to 17 yards on eight carries in a 16-15 win over the Houston Texans. "I talk to coach Simon, and that's it. That's who I deal with. He gives me a head's up on how things are going to go.

"At least he gives me that respect and I respect him for that. That's why I like to go out and play for him. He keeps me going every week through everything that's going on. Beyond those discussions, I have to go in blind and don't really know what's going on."

Lewis carried the football twice after halftime against Houston. Meanwhile, backup Chester Taylor finished with 40 yards on 11 carries.

"When I'm out for two or three series, I know what kind of game it's going to be," said Lewis, who repeated his ‘Hokey-Pokey' comment. "Last week, I had to wrap up and stay warm."

Despite his constant lobbying, the former NFL Offensive Player of the Year is averaging a career-low 3.1 yards per carry and a career-low 15.3 carries.

"I don't even look for 25 carries anymore, I prepare for it just in case," Lewis said. "I'm not a fool. I'm not dumb. I'm not ignorant to the situation."

Lewis' six-year, $35.3 million contract is about to expire, and it's becoming increasingly obvious that the impending free agent doesn't want to return to Baltimore. The Ravens could franchise Lewis, which would earn him roughly $6.5 million in 2006.

Lewis denied that his offseason legal turmoil -- four months in a federal prison and two months in a halfway house after a plea bargain in a cocaine conspiracy case -- is hindering his status.

When asked if his contract was the issue, Lewis replied: "That might have something to do with it, but I don't think the offseason has anything to do with it because they could have easily replaced me or let me go. I know, but I'm not going to say it."

Lewis said the last time he spoke with Billick was prior to a season-high 23-carry, 113-yard game in a loss to the Cincinnati Bengals two weeks ago. His frequent complaints apparently won't change Billick's mind about his workload.

"There are a lot of players and coaches right now where none of us are happy with our current situation," Billick said. "So what do I do now? How can I change that? Will you go out, work hard and try to change that situation?"
Taylor will be an unrestricted free agent, too, and the team is determined to evaluate him.

When asked if the team still has faith in Lewis, Billick said: "Much like the coaches, to isolate it right now, to come up with that decision right now would be ill-advised."

Earning a $3.58 million base salary, Lewis admitted that incentive clauses in his contract are on his mind. He acknowledged that he's unlikely to trigger them because he's probably not going to rush for 1,000 yards.

"I'm going to tell you the truth, I'm trying to reach my incentives basically," Lewis said. "If the playoffs aren't in reach, you have individual goals you are trying to accomplish. The way it's looking right now, I don't think it's going to happen."

QUICK HITS: Defensive end Tony Weaver (back) is listed as doubtful and didn't practice. … Cornerback Chris McAlister (hamstring) is questionable, but practiced after missing the Texans game. "I feel better," he said. ... Offensive linemen Edwin Mulitalo (knee), Orlando Brown (back) and Keydrick Vincent (thigh) are questionable. … Rookie linebacker Mike Smith (hamstring) is out along with fullback Justin Green (broken wrist). … Nickel back Dale Carter (back), center Mike Flynn (hip) and linebacker Adalius Thomas (back) are probable. … Safety Ed Reed's ankle held up despite taking more than 70 snaps in his first game back. "He moved around well, he was sore the next day," Billick said. "I think the leg made it through very, very well."


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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