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OWINGS MILLS — Baltimore Ravens running back Jamal Lewis is on the mend from a hip injury, returning to practice Monday after missing the previous week. Lewis, who was initially forecast by Ravens coach Brian Billick to miss the remainder of the preseason to recuperate fully from a strained left hip flexor, remains unlikely to play Thursday in the team’s preseason finale against the Washington Redskins.
“I’m feeling much better,” Lewis said. “I just needed to rest that muscle. I pushed it as hard as I could knowing I was still hurt.
“I just need to get back to that mentality of getting that timing back. I don’t know if I’ll play this week. That’s up to coach Billick.”
ROSTER TRIMMED: The Ravens cut ties with seven players one day prior to a league-mandated roster cutdown to 75 players.
After releasing safeties Shannon James and Steve Paris, wide receiver Brian Bratton and Rufus Skillern, long snapper Landon Schrage, defensive end Benard Thomas and offensive guard Kyle Roper, the Ravens have to cut two more players prior to today’s 4 p.m. deadline.
R. LEWIS UPDATE: Middle linebacker Ray Lewis hasn’t experienced any medical setbacks since undergoing hamstring surgery in December. He was credited with five tackles, including four solos, against the Vikings.
“I haven’t had no tweaks or anything,” Lewis said. “I’m icing it everyday. I’m doing so much treatment on it, so I don’t have any setbacks now. I’m just excited to really play football when it means something.”
Although Billick alluded to increasing starters’ playing time more than usual against the Redskins, Lewis indicated a clear preference when asked how long he wanted to play.
“Three and out,” Lewis said with a laugh.
FIRST TACKLE: Rookie defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, the team’s first-round draft pick, registered his first NFL tackle against the Vikings. He didn’t spend nearly as much time on the ground as he did during his debut the previous week, appearing more mobile while competing with accomplished blockers like Steve Hutchinson and Matt Birk.
“My knee feels better and I’m feeling a lot more comfortable,” Ngata said. “It’s beginning to be second-nature to me. I’m making some progress”
TRAINING ROOM: Safety Gerome Sapp didn’t practice again after missing the team’s preseason loss to the Minnesota Vikings with what Billick described as an intestinal irritation.
“His likelihood for Thursday is hard to say,” Billick said. “It’s under control fortunately. It was not muscular. It was just a tough infection.”
Meanwhile, safety B.J. Ward (migraines), offensive guard Brian Rimpf (hamstring) and wide receiver Matt Cherry (shoulder) didn’t practice. Ward said he will return to practice soon after being out for the past few weeks, but hasn’t been cleared for contact yet.
“I’m very close to being able to hit,” Ward said. “I’m still getting over most of what was bothering me.”
QUICK HITS: Wide receiver Clarence Moore turned in a pair of acrobatic receptions for 60 yards against the Vikings, an impressive display that he may have renewed his old red-zone role. Moore missed training camp as he recovered from offseason surgery to repair a sports hernia. “His legs are getting a little heavier, but obviously what he did the other night is what Clarence can bring to us and we need to expand on that,” Billick said. … Billick made an attempt at levity when asked about the team’s 30-7 loss to the Vikings. “What game?” he said. “That was a joke."
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times in Westminster, Maryland.