R. Lewis to be a game-time decision

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Baltimore Ravens middle linebacker Ray Lewis will be a game-time decision Sunday against the Tennessee Titans because of a back injury that kept him out of practice the entire week, coach Brian Billick announced Friday.

If the two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year is unavailable, then backup Mike Smith would make his first NFL start. Lewis predicted Wednesday that he would be able to start, but the seven-time All-Pro also forecast that he would practice by Friday at the latest.
"Everything is clean, everything is fine," said Billick, referring to medical exams and X-rays on Lewis' back. "It's stiff. It hurts."
Earlier this week, Lewis said that he has experienced back spasms and has had trouble moving around.
Smith, a second-year pro out of Texas Tech whom Baltimore drafted in the seventh round last year, forced a fumble on the opening kickoff in last week's win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
"Mike, like any player, at some point, everybody has to be able to step up," Billick said. "Mike had a great preseason for us and has been a solid special-teams performer for us, so I don't doubt Mike's ability to come in and do the job."
Smith, who has registered six special-teams tackles this season, has gotten increased work at middle linebacker all week.
At 6-foot-1, 235 pounds, Smith is smaller than Lewis and not as fast. The former Texas Tech captain and team MVP is known as a physical tackler who thrived during the preseason and demonstrated a nose for the football.
"I feel like I've earned these guys' respect in preseason and in practice," Smith said. "We have a good bond on this defense and no matter what defense we're in and what player is in there, we can all count on each other to get it done."
Meanwhile, Billick predicted that safety Ed Reed (neck), whose knee collided with Lewis' back against Cincinnati, will be available to start. Reed has missed practice time this week.

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times in Westminster, Maryland.

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