Ravens' camp notes: J.Lewis returns

WESTMINSTER -- Jamal Lewis quickly grew tired of the monotony of hopping over cones on the sidelines, so the Baltimore Ravens' burly running back officially rejoined the huddle. Lewis was activated from the physically unable to perform list Monday afternoon at McDaniel College after missing five practices with a strained left hip flexor.

He ran the football with his trademark burst during team drills with the starting offense.

"It feels pretty good, it just aches a little bit," Lewis said. "I kind of knew I was going to be a little behind coming into training camp."

Compared to last year, Lewis is a world ahead in his preparations.

Lewis arrived at camp nearly a week late last summer due to legal processing issues after serving two months in an Atlanta halfway house following four months in a federal prison for a plea bargain in a cocaine conspiracy case. He also underwent ankle surgery and spiraled down to a career-worst season with 906 rushing yards, three touchdowns and a 3.4 average per carry.

"I don't think you're going to have a great season every season," Lewis said. "Last year was probably one of my worst seasons ever, but that's why I worked so hard to be able to do much better and get back on track."

The Ravens acquired former Denver Broncos running back Mike Anderson, and Lewis is essentially playing under a one-year, $6 million deal because the team plans to review its relationship with him after the season. Lewis has already been declared the starter.

"It's a good 1-2 punch," Lewis said. "We lost a good back in Chester Taylor, so bringing in a good back in Mike Anderson is great. I don't know what the plan is, but I'm here to try to help this team win ball games."

Since emerging as the 2003 rushing champion with 2,066 yards -- the second-most in league history -- and being named the NFL Offensive Player of the Year, Lewis has gained a combined total of 1,912 yards and 10 touchdowns in two seasons.

"Sometimes, I think was that a good thing or a bad thing to go for those yards that year," said Lewis, who scored 14 times in 2003. "Should I have waited a couple more years before I did that? But if I have to live up to those expectations I put in place, I just work hard to reach that goal again.

"As a good running back, there are always things we can go back and work on. I don't think it has to do with a stance or anything about my running style. I think it's just coming in with the frame of mind that this is what I'm trying to accomplish."

TRAINING ROOM: Wide receiver Clarence Moore remains on the PUP list after undergoing two offseason hernia surgeries necessitated when mesh intended to stabilize his abdomen got loose. Moore has told trainers that it's still extremely tender, so it's unclear when he'll return.

Running back Cory Ross (hamstring) and tight end Bobby Blizzard (back) didn't practice. Nickel back David Pittman (hamstring) returned to drills, as did wide receiver Tres Moses (ankle).

SAFETY STATUS: Gerome Sapp has taken the majority of the work with the first defense, gaining the initial lead over rookie Dawan Landry in the competition to play alongside Ed Reed.

Sapp, a former Baltimore draft pick reacquired from the Indianapolis Colts in a trade, isn't a stranger to Reed since they were rookies together in 2002.

"Being that I knew Sapp beforehand, I think it puts us on a quicker pace," Reed said. "At the same time, you know the position is open so he's not the only guy you're trying to get chemistry with."

QUOTABLE: Ravens coach Brian Billick moved practice up a half-hour, starting at 8:15 a.m. to try to beat the sweltering heat.

"I accused the players of hacking into my computer to make me think it was hotter than it was to move it up," Billick said. "It's tough, but we're going to adjust to it."

QUICK HITS: Rookie defensive tackle Haloti Ngata burst into the backfield and decked running back Musa Smith, drawing immediate praise from linebacker Ray Lewis. "You can start to see that athleticism," Billick said. "He's got fresh legs, too, but you saw a glimpse of what we hope we can get out of him." … Smith got even with the defense, breaking several long runs and showing no ill effects from the gruesome broken leg he suffered two years ago that forced him onto injured reserve last year. "He's completely showing the signs that he's ready to come back full-force," Billick said. … Linebacker Dan Cody hasn't had any setbacks in his recovery from last year's torn anterior cruciate ligament. "He looks very confident," Billick said. "It looks like he wasn't thinking about the knee and that's a big step."

Aaron Wilson writes for Ravens Insider and the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.

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