Ravens Ready Without Jamal Lewis

Baltimore will come to the Metrodome without star running back Jamal Lewis in the starting lineup, but right now it's just considered a precautionary move after Pro Bowl back felt hip pain. Plus, get other notes from the Ravens as they prepare for their Friday night preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings.

To make sure Jamal Lewis is healthy for the regular-season opener, the Baltimore Ravens will sit their starting running back for the final two preseason games, including Friday night's matchup with the Vikings in the Metrodome.

Ravens officials said this is a precautionary measure and Lewis could have started this week if it was a regular-season game.

In last Thursday's preseason win over the Philadelphia Eagles, Lewis told coach Brian Billick that he felt a pain in his hip after a 3-yard gain early in the second quarter. Lewis, who had injured his hip before training camp, was then pulled from the game.

"Medically, it's prudent at this point to give him a chance to fully rehab it, get that last bit of soreness or whatever it is that's going on in there out," Billick said. "So between now and the beginning of the season, that is what our focus is going to be. Hopefully, we're giving him two weeks to get the proper rehab and crank it up for Tampa Bay."

With Lewis out, Mike Anderson worked with the starting offense. Anderson, who has 25 yards on eight carries this preseason, said he is not being limited after spraining his foot Thursday.

"More carries are always welcome," said Anderson, who was the leading rusher for the Denver Broncos last season. "It should be fun."

Despite the injury to Lewis, the Ravens wrapped up the most uneventful training camp in the Billick era.

There were no extended holdouts and no quarterback controversies.

"The focus has been as good as I can remember," said tight end Todd Heap, who is entering his sixth season with the Ravens. "We haven't had a lot of crazy things happen off the field. All we've been doing is thinking about football. It's good to get back to that, and put all of our attention on the field."

Usually a lightning rod for distractions, the Ravens have been the exception in the AFC North this year.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have dealt with daily questions about the health status of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and the job status of coach Bill Cowher.

The Cleveland Browns are working on their fourth center after losing LeCharles Bentley (season-ending knee injury), Bob Hallen (retired unexpectedly) and Alonzo Ephraim (suspended four games for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy).

Five Cincinnati Bengals players have been arrested this offseason, and the team is holding its breath on the return of injured quarterback Carson Palmer.

"There's a subtle drag when those things come up that you have to overcome," Billick said. "You get more done when you don't have to deal with that. It allows you to bring focus to the things that are important: the season opener and the task at hand. Anything that detracts from that is not a good thing."

For once, the Ravens' quarterback situation has been a positive.

Steve McNair has picked up the system quickly despite only having a few months to absorb it. McNair has completed 18 of 23 passes this preseason (78.3 percent) and has rarely showed any hesitation.

"What has happened on a field that he hasn't seen before?" Billick said. "The fact that he has been through three different coordinators and last year had to switch to a new system, he's kind of in that rhythm."


  • The Ravens offense welcomed nine-time Pro Bowl offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden back to practice by calling a fake snap count and inducing Ogden into false-starting.

    Ogden, who missed the past three weeks of training camp to mourn the death of his father last month, laughed when asked about the prank, but became serious as he discussed the comfort returning to football provides.

    "I think if I had to guess right now — it's kind of hard because I'm just getting back — I'd probably say it's a comfort because it's routine," Ogden said. "It's what I've been doing for a long time, and I'm just trying to get back to it. It's not as good as I'd like to get it right now, but I expected that. ... As long as I'm really ready to go against Tampa, that's my goal."

  • Dawan Landry, a fifth-round pick, seems to have the edge for the starting strong safety job because the Ravens like his physical presence, especially when dropping close to the line of scrimmage. It's unknown whether Sapp, a high-motor player, will get another chance with the starting defense.

    "I don't think it's fair to shut the door on anybody," defensive coordinator Rex Ryan said. "These last couple of weeks, I've seen improvement in Gerome Sapp. And I'm excited about Landry. He's been thrown to the wolves right now, but he doesn't look out of place to me."

  • The Ravens really want Sam Koch to seize the punting job, but the rookie sixth-round pick (36.9-yard average) is struggling as much as veteran Leo Araguz (37.5). This has clearly become the team's weakest area this preseason.

    "I think we're getting a pretty good exposure to make our decision," coach Brian Billick said.

  • The Ravens drew 60,535 people, making this year's training camp the second-most-attended camp that did not include a scrimmage in franchise history, according to Bob Eller, the team's senior director of operations.

  • Receiver Clarence Moore was activated off the physically unable to perform list after missing 17 days of training camp.

    "It feels like it's about time," said Moore. "I don't feel like I'm working through any soreness. Obviously, I still want to take precautionary measures, but I feel like 100 percent right now."

  • Guard Brian Rimpf, who has missed the past eight days of practice because of a sore left hamstring, said he is optimistic about returning to the field soon.

    Rimpf, who started the final seven games at right guard last season, did not give a timetable for his return, but the 6-foot-5, 319-pound offensive lineman said the throbbing pain that hobbled him last week is subsiding.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "We're going to run the ball 500 times this year. Who carries that 500? I don't much care. Too many athletes is never, ever, ever a problem." Coach Brian Billick on the Ravens' crowded backfield of Jamal Lewis, Mike Anderson and Musa Smith.

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