3 Baltimore Ravens A healthy Ray Lewis and the best pass rusher in the draft give a good defense scary potential

August 31, 2003

Two stories illustrate the kind of influence inside linebacker
Ray Lewis exerts on the Ravens, a team that he's trying to drag
back into playoff contention:

On the morning of Aug. 18, the second-to-last day of the Ravens'
training camp at McDaniel College in central Maryland, Lewis
addressed his teammates and told them not to drive back to the
locker room after practice as they usually do in the golf carts
provided for them. Instead, he told them to walk the gantlet of
fans who'd come to watch them work out, and autograph everything
in sight. So 86 players, from Bennie Anderson to Dave Zastudil,
spent up to 45 minutes signing on their long walk back to the
showers.

Two days earlier, when the Ravens played their second preseason
game, at Atlanta, cornerback Corey Fuller, a free-agent pickup
who had been released by the Browns, watched in amazement as
seven or eight defenders swarmed in on every tackle, whether it
was on a running play up the middle or a pass play 15 yards
downfield. When Fuller allowed a long completion, his heart sank.
But when he returned to the huddle, Fuller heard a defensive
lineman say, "Our fault. We gotta get more pressure." And Lewis
fixed him with his crazed look and yelled, "Just know I'm coming!
You got help from me!" Fuller thought the intensity level felt
more like the playoffs than the preseason.

"Ray plays so hard that all these players on defense don't want
to let him down," Fuller says. "They're more worried about facing
him if they screw up than facing any coach."

In the Ravens' Super Bowl season of 2000, Lewis was a team
leader, but veterans like Sam Adams and Rod Woodson and Tony
Siragusa didn't need anybody to lead them. In 2003, with only six
of the 22 starters from that team left, Lewis's grip is
unchallenged. In part it's because of the magnetism of his
personality. That's always been there, but now there's more glee
in Lewis because he's fired up to play again after separating his
left shoulder last fall and missing 11 of 16 games. "He's back in
the toy store," coach Brian Billick says, "happier than ever."

"When you play with a separated shoulder," Lewis said after one
practice, "you're not you. Just before I went in for surgery, I
told my mother, 'When I wake up I'm gonna be a new man.' And
that's how I feel. I can't wait to go out there every day. Fuller
said to me one day in practice, 'Now I see why this team plays so
well. They feed off your energy.'"

There's a lot to that. Look at the free agents who've left the
Ravens. Cornerback Duane Starks had a pedestrian first year in
Arizona. The Broncos have defensive tackle Lional Dalton on the
trading block. Seen any Sunday night highlights of Houston
linebacker Jamie Sharper? "The players who've left here aren't as
successful as they were here," says minority owner Steve
Bisciotti. "I think Ray gets the people around him to play 30
percent better than they are."

Lewis says his passion is what makes his teammates play better.
That and getting them to put in the time. "In 2000 we had Hall of
Famers," he says. "What can I tell Rod Woodson? But now we have a
bunch of young guys who want to be great. I stress learning from
film, doing the extra things. At the end of practice I say, 'If
you stop your preparation here, you lose. We lose.'"

Lewis will play next to 250-pound plugger Edgerton Hartwell in
the Ravens' 3-4 defense, freeing Lewis to range from sideline to
sideline. Ends Adalius Thomas and Anthony Weaver combined for
only 6 1/2 sacks last year, but they should be more productive
with Lewis back--and with the addition of the 10th pick in the
draft, Arizona State outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, whose
stock slumped last spring because of a lousy 40-yard dash time.
Euphoric to get Suggs, who had 24 sacks last fall, Billick laughs
about his 40. "I'll worry about that," he says, "when they line
the quarterback up 40 yards back from center."

The Ravens got the best pass rusher in the draft and now have a
rebuilt Lewis. A pretty good defense might get downright
scary.--P.K.

COLOR PHOTO: DOUG PENSINGER/GETTY IMAGES PASSION PLAY The joy and intensity that Lewis exhibits on the field--and off--makes his teammates play better. COLOR PHOTO: NFL PHOTOS SUGGS
COLOR PHOTO

UNDER THE GUN

--The Browns let COREY FULLER go because they thought he was too
slow, but coach Brian Billick is counting on the cornerback's
swagger and savvy to make up for any loss of speed. Fuller joins
a team desperate for a cover corner to pair with Chris
McAlister--last year, the Ravens allowed foes to complete 62.8%
of their passes.

ENEMY LINES
An opposing scout's view

"I like their 3-4 defense, with Terrell Suggs and Peter Boulware
on the sides and Ray Lewis in the middle. Suggs will be a
monster; I just don't know if it'll be this year.... Corey Fuller
will be a weak link at corner.... They have a very average
defensive line. Kelly Gregg can get pushed around.... You can
tell Brian Billick doesn't like Chris Redman at quarterback; he's
just not accurate enough. But that was [rookie] Kyle Boller's
weakness at Cal.... Jamal Lewis could rush for 1,600 yards. He's
a bullish back who can get around the corner quicker than you
think.... Their offensive line scares me. To me, it's Jonathan
Ogden and four schmoes. Ed Mulitalo's overrated, and how long can
Orlando Brown last, coming back after three years? ... I love
Todd Heap's ability to get open and run after the catch, but I
don't trust any of their wideouts. Frank Sanders has always been
more hype than production, and Travis Taylor is one of those
classic Florida receivers--never as explosive as you thought when
you drafted him.... Matt Stover's the most reliable kicker in the
division.... This team is a mystery because of its quarterback,
but I think it has a chance to be really good."

SCHEDULE

Sept. 7 at Pittsburgh
14 CLEVELAND
21 at San Diego
28 KANSAS CITY

Oct. 5 OPEN DATE
12 at Arizona
19 at Cincinnati
26 DENVER

Nov. 2 JACKSONVILLE
9 at St. Louis
16 at Miami
23 SEATTLE
30 SAN FRANCISCO

Dec. 7 CINCINNATI
14 at Oakland
21 at Cleveland
28 PITTSBURGH

SCHEDULE STRENGTH

NFL rank: 21
Opponents' 2002 winning percentage: .480
Games against playoff teams: 6

PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP with 2002 statistics

2002 RECORD: 7-9
NFL RANK (rush/pass/total):
OFFENSE 16/27/26
DEFENSE 13/26/22

COACH: Brian Billick; fifth season with Baltimore (37-27 in NFL)

JAMAL LEWIS

POS. PVR ATT. TDs AVG.
RB 29 308 1,327 4.3

REC YARDS AVG. TDs
47 442 9.4 7

CHRIS REDMAN

POS. PVR ATT. COMP. %
QB 130 182 97 53.3

YARDS TDs INT. RATING
1,034 7 3 76.1

ALAN RICARD

POS. PVR ATT. TDs AVG.
FB 390 14 58 4.1

REC YARDS AVG. TDs
10 60 6.0 2

TRAVIS TAYLOR

POS. PVR REC YARDS TDs
WR 71 61 869 6

TODD HEAP

POS. PVR REC YARDS TDs
TE 79 68 836 6

JONATHAN OGDEN

POS. HEIGHT WEIGHT GMS STARTS
LT 6'9" 340 lbs. 16 16

EDWIN MULITALO

POS. HEIGHT WEIGHT GMS STARTS
LG 6'3" 340 lbs. 16 15

MIKE FLYNN

POS. HEIGHT WEIGHT GMS STARTS
C 6'3" 305 lbs. 15 15

BENNIE ANDERSON

POS. HEIGHT WEIGHT GMS STARTS
RG 6'5" 335 lbs. 16 16

ORLANDO BROWN

POS. HEIGHT WEIGHT GMS STARTS
RT 6'7" 350 lbs. 0 0

FRANK SANDERS

POS. PVR REC YARDS TDs
WR 197 34 400 2

DEFENSE

RE ADALIUS THOMAS 41 tackles 3 sacks
NT KELLY GREGG 56 tackles 2 sacks
LE ANTHONY WEAVER 31 tackles 3 1/2 sacks
OLB PETER BOULWARE 73 tackles 7 sacks
ILB EDGERTON HARTWELL 144 tackles 3 sacks
ILB RAY LEWIS 58 tackles 2 int.
OLB TERRELL SUGGS[1](R) 73 tackles 24 sacks
CB COREY FULLER[1] 32 tackles 1 int.
SS ED REED 80 tackles 5 int.
FS GARY BAXTER 78 tackles 1 int.
CB CHRIS MCALISTER 53 tackles 1 int.

SPECIAL TEAMS PVR

K MATT STOVER 238 33/33 XPS 21/25 FGS 96 PTS.
PR LAMONT BRIGHTFUL 437 15 RET. 16.1 AVG. 1 TD
KR LAMONT BRIGHTFUL 437 34 RET. 20.6 AVG. 0 TDS
P DAVE ZASTUDIL 81 PUNTS 41.6 AVG.

[1] New acquisition
(R) Rookie (statistics for final college year)
PVR: Player Value Ranking (explanation on page 89)

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)