Ravens lose to Panthers on Fair

The Baltimore Ravens won't need equipment manager Ed Carroll to reserve a locker room stall for cornerback Terry Fair. Days before the Ravens compete with the Carolina Panthers on the football field in Sunday's season opener at Ericsson Stadium, the Ravens lost a battle in the boardroom Wednesday night as Fair agreed in principle with the Panthers for a one-year contract worth roughly $1.12 million.

"It was down to the Ravens and the Panthers," said Reggie Smith, Fair's agent. "Terry wants to go somewhere where he can start and win games."

The Ravens' interest was piqued because of Fair's ability as a cover cornerback and return specialist. Despite having Fair visit their training complex Wednesday, the Ravens weren't alone in their pursuit. The Panthers and the Ravens competed head to head to try to acquire Fair, a 1998 first-round draft pick released on Sunday by the Detroit Lions.

"This is definitely something I will really have to sit back and think hard about," said Fair, who started 48 games in four seasons for Detroit before falling out of favor with coach Marty Mornhinweg in a dispute over how long a broken foot took to heal. "The season starts Sunday, so I don't know if I'll be out there, but I'm trying to get out there as soon as I can."

Ravens coach Brian Billick had expressed interest in signing Fair. Fair, 26, said his physical went well and his foot was close to normal. He was scheduled to visit the Green Bay Packers on Wednesday, but cancelled after working out for Baltimore.

 He visited the Miami Dolphins and Panthers earlier this week. In Detroit last season, the former Tennessee standout missed the final four games with a broken bone in his right foot.

 According to a report, the foot healed so slowly this winter that it was eventually placed in a cast and Fair was placed on the physically unable to perform list. After being cleared to play this preseason, Fair apparently protested that he wasn't ready, but did comply eventually and suited up.

 "You've got to make this football team," Morhinweg told The Detroit Free Press. "You've got to earn your spot and you've got to prove yourself not only every year, not only ever month, not only every week, but every day. We all need to prove ourselves."

Fair didn't dispute that there was an issue, just the Lions' version of events.

"I did everything I was supposed to do as a player," Fair said. "I held up my end of the bargain. I worked my tail off. I thought I was doing well, apparently not. They had a decision to make."

Fair collected 210 tackles, seven interceptions and two touchdowns with the Lions. The 5-foot-9, 184-pounder had running back and former Volunteer Jamal Lewis' endorsement, but it doesn't appear they'll be teammates again anytime soon.

 "Terry's a great player," Lewis said. "He's great at special teams and as a cover corner. He adds a lot, but I don't know if he'll be here." Fair won't. He might even play against Lewis on Sunday in Charlotte, N.C.

NOTE: The Ravens added tight end Brandon Christenson to the practice squad. Christenson is 6-5, 260 pounds and was released Sunday by the Oakland Raiders after prior stints in NFL Europe with the Barcelona Dragons and the Jacksonville Jaguars.

With the Dragons, Christenson caught 11 passes for 105 yards and four touchdowns. "I'm just happy to get another shot in the NFL this quickly," said Christenson, who attended Northwest Oklahoma.

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