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News » Baltimore Ravens Inside Slant 2008-07-28

Baltimore Ravens Inside Slant 2008-07-28

Baltimore Ravens Inside Slant 2008-07-28
Could Ray Lewis be starting his final training camp with the Ravens?

Lewis is in the final year of a seven-year deal worth about $50 million that included a then-NFL-record $19 million signing bonus.

The Ravens and Lewis have talked about an extension, but the sides are not considered close.

After his first training camp practice of the year, Lewis said he wasn't in the mood to talk about his contract status.

"I just had a hard day of camp, I'm sweating, I'm tired, and you want me to talk about next year?" Lewis asked. "I'm trying to talk about tomorrow's practice. I can't talk about next year. I don't know what that means."

If the sides are unable to strike a new deal, Lewis may hit the open market for the first time in his illustrious career.

The Ravens could keep Lewis by using the franchise tag, but that designation could cause some animosity with the face of the franchise. The last two players who received the franchise tag by the Ravens -- cornerback Chris McAlister and defensive end-linebacker Terrell Suggs -- have both missed camp to protest it.

This is the first time the Ravens have allowed Lewis to reach the final year of his contract.

Lewis is scheduled to make $6.5 million this season.

But critics have said that Lewis, the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year in 2000 and 2003, is not the dominant player he once was.

According to the NFL, Lewis finished tied for 12th in the league in tackles with 120 in 2007. He also has not played a full season since 2003, missing 15 games the past four seasons.

But when critics question whether Lewis has lost a step, he points out that a Lewis-led defense hasn't allowed a 100-yard rusher since Dec. 10, 2006.

"All I have to do is invite him into my defense," Lewis said of the naysayers. "We're the only defense that didn't see a 100-yard rusher last year. So we're OK with that. So inviting people to come see me up the middle, that's not a good thing to do. Most of the time, they're trying to get away from me."

Lewis turned 33 on May 15, but age isn't a concern for either Lewis or coach John Harbaugh.

"It's great to have an opportunity to coach a football team that Ray Lewis is on," Harbaugh said. "Just watching practice today, you see why he's one of the all-time greats, why he's a first-ballot Hall of Famer, and why he believes he's got a lot of football in him. Because he does."

Added Lewis: "My energy is just incredible. You listen to the 13-years and older-guy thing and things like that, but I'm a big sports fan. I've watched a lot of guys who they say are old. They said Michael Strahan was old, but he beat every tackle that was in front of him and won a Super Bowl. So (the term) old is a lot of wisdom and a lot of knowledge. If you take care of your body the way that guy takes care of his body, the way Terrell Owens wants to take care of his body, the way I take care of my body, you can play as long as you want to."

CAMP CALENDAR: Camp concludes on Aug. 15.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: July 28, 2008

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