Ravens - Giants game notes

BALTIMORE -- Jamal Lewis had been relatively quiet since the launch of training camp, but the Baltimore Ravens' bruising runner broke his silence in a major way Friday night. The former NFL Offensive Player of the Year appeared to put some distance behind the worst season of his career last year, rumbling inside for tough yardage in the preseason opener against the New York Giants.

Lewis gained 34 yards on six carries, including a 13-yard scamper where he demonstrated with sharp cuts that he now fully trusts his surgically-repaired ankle.

This marked the first heavy contact for Lewis, who's essentially playing this season under a one-year, $6 million relationship that will be reviewed after the season, since beginning camp on the physically unable to perform list with a strained left hip flexor.

"It felt good, felt kinda fast, my first real contact that I've had really all camp," Lewis said. "I was anxiously awaiting that first hit. It felt pretty good."

Plus, Lewis noticed a definite difference in how the Giants approached the Ravens' new-look offense with quarterback Steve McNair under center.

There was much more respect paid to the threat of a downfield pass than the Ravens have been paid in several years, especially during the erratic three-year tenure of former starter Kyle Boller.

That development could bode well for Lewis' future following last season's career-low performance of 906 yards, three touchdowns and a 3.4 average per carry.

"I was kind of anxious to see how they were going to line up against us," Lewis said. "Kinda waiting to see what kind of reaction we get out of defenses with Steve back there with his experience and with his presence.

"They backed out. They looked kind of honest, so we were able to play things 50-50."

TRAINING ROOM: The Ravens decided to sit down middle linebacker Ray Lewis and cornerback Samari Rolle. It was coach Brian Billick's decision, according to team officials.

It was likely a precautionary measure in both cases given the players' veteran status and not being mentioned on the injury report.

Billick said Thursday that Lewis, who didn't take part in contract drills in a scrimmage against the Redskins, was going to play.

Lewis had an icepack on his shoulder at the team hotel Thursday, but didn't appear to be in any discomfort. Rolle has missed some practice with a mild knee injury.

Meanwhile, wide receiver Derrick Mason left the game with a mild concussion that he suffered after catching a short pass near the goal-line when he was sandwiched between defensive backs Gibril Wilson and Corey Webster.

Linebacker Mike Smith, who had an active first half starting in place of Ray Lewis, left the game with a contusion on his knee and didn't return.

First-round defensive tackle Haloti Ngata sat out with a Grade 1, sprained medial collateral ligament.

The Ravens also held out offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden, who's on the physically unable to perform list after missing the first few weeks of training camp following his father's death, offensive guard Brian Rimpf (pulled hamstring), safety B.J. Ward (migraines), wide receiver Clarence Moore (sports hernia), cornerback David Pittman (strained hamstring) and tight end Rob Abiamiri (leg).

LINEUP CHANGES: Justin Green started at fullback, but Ovie Mughelli saw considerable action as well. Rookie Dawan Landry started at safety ahead of Gerome Sapp, who worked in with the starters after Landry left the game abruptly.

Corey Ivy started in place of Rolle with Adam Terry starting at left tackle for Ogden. Aubrayo Franklin starting at defensive tackle for Ngata.

CODY'S BACK: Linebacker Dan Cody, who missed his entire rookie season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, registered the first sack of his NFL career. He slung down Tim Hasselbeck during the third quarter.

SHORTHANDED: The Giants were even more shorthanded, going without linebacker LaVar Arrington (knee), running back Tiki Barber, linebacker Carlos Emmons (neck burner), tight end Jeremy Shockey (post-concussion syndrome), wide receiver Sinorice Moss, defensive end Michael Strahan, running back Derrick Ward, offensive guard Chris Snee (knee), and punter Jeff Feagles.

DEMPS' HOMECOMING: This game marked the return to Baltimore of former Ravens four-year starting free safety Will Demps, who signed with the Giants after the Ravens made no effort to retain him when he became a free agent.

"At first it's like, 'Oh, I can't wait to go back to Baltimore,'" Demps told New York reporters before kickoff. "But the more I think about it, the Giants are my team and they're my home and I'm going to treat it like any other game.

"I'm not going to lie and say there aren't going to be any emotions, because I started my career there. When I step between the white lines it's going to be football. I'll say hi to everybody after the game."

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

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