Notebook: R. Lewis, Suggs, Stover awaiting their future

Street Talk Notebook: R. Lewis, Suggs, Stover awaiting their future

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BALTIMORE — Baltimore Ravens star middle linebacker Ray Lewis’ seven-year, $50 million contract is about to expire, but he didn’t behave as if he had played his final game in Baltimore.

Other than flipping the football to an equipment manager for safekeeping after recovering one of his two fumbles Sunday in a 27-7 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars at M&T Bank Stadium that clinched a playoff berth, Lewis acted as if it was just another day at the office.

He led the Ravens with eight tackles and forced a fumble. Afterward in the locker room, he sang a Bob Marley song while waiting for fullback Lorenzo Neal to wrap up an interview.

Drafted in the first round prior to the Ravens’ inaugural season in 1996, Lewis has always had his contract renewed at least one year before becoming a free agent. Now, he’s in position to test free agency if he chooses to in March.

General manager Ozzie Newsome has said there are no current negotiations, but the team plans to talk with Lewis’ representatives as soon as the season is over.

If his departure is actually impending, then Lewis did a good job of keeping those thoughts to himself.

"I would be the most selfish person ever to walk this earth if I thought about myself and not my team right now," said Lewis, who has been involved in negotiations with the team since the spring. "It’s all about my teammates."

Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, who’s the Ravens’ franchise player and scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent if the Ravens don’t sign him to a long-term deal or designate him with the franchise tag again, feels fairly assured of his return.

"It didn’t feel like my last game on the field," Suggs said. "The crowd was amazing. We just went out there and had fun."

And Suggs is fairly certain that he’ll be in the same huddle as Lewis again. It’s considered more unlikely that inside linebacker Bart Scott, whose deal is also up, will be retained.

"I sure hope so because I can’t imagine football without him or Bart," Suggs said. "I think something will get done. I think we’ll be all right."

Meanwhile, veteran kicker Matt Stover, 40, who’s one of the final remaining players on the roster from the 1996 team along with Lewis, is aware of the speculation that this could be his last season with the Ravens.

Stover, who missed a 48-yard try to break a streak of 14 kicks in a row and made two other field goals Sunday, recovered from a rough start to the season to convert 27 of 33 kicks. Now, he’s in a waiting mode about his future.

"That’s always going through my mind, but not to a point where it’s going to dictate my play," Stover said. "Every time I step out onto that field, it’s been a great privilege and I know it could always be my last.

"I’m not going to at this point even consider that because if you do it affects your play, but I do know I’ve been thinking like that for the last five or six years. Look, I’ll be 41 at the end of January. Who would’ve thought I would be here this long?"

SUGGS PACKAGE: The Ravens brought back their double quarterback package, taking advantage of backup quarterback Troy Smith’s athleticism on a 36-yard throwback pass from quarterback Joe Flacco.

Smith took the snap and lateraled it to Flacco on his right, and then Flacco hit Smith in stride on the opposite sideline. Smith showed good moves in the open field and possibly could have scored if he had made one more defender miss.

"That’s the difference between me being a quarterback and something else, a tailback or a receiver or somebody who knows how to run after the catch would have scored right there," said Smith, who also completed a 25-yard pass to tight end Edgar Jones. "That’s just being an athletic guy."

Ironically, the Ravens nearly scored on a similar play call against the Houston Texans. However, Flacco one-hopped that pass attempt to Smith.

"Not the exact one, but it was pretty close," Smith said. "Being involved in the offense like that, you step into situations and any time you can make a play, you try to do so. This was a big one to win."

Smith acknowledged that he just wanted to make sure he caught the football first before getting upfield.

"No doubt about that, the glare in the stadium is something totally different on the receiving end," Smith said. "I have tremendous respect for our receivers."

BOLLER UPDATE: Former starting quarterback Kyle Boller attended the game. In his first comments in months, Boller reported that his shoulder surgery was successful.

"The surgery went awesome," he said. "The rehab has been going great."

Boller has shuttled back and forth from California to Baltimore while rehabbing his shoulder. A free agent after this season, he isn’t expected to be back and has already sold his Baltimore County home.

"I’m so happy for the guys," he said. "I’m glad I was able to come to this game. They’ve had a heck of a year, not only Joe, but the whole offense.

"It’s like night and day with Joe. I think back to St. Louis when we were there for the preseason game and Joe came a long way. Seeing him now, he’s ready for the playoffs."

FIRST TIME: It was the first career reception for Jones, a converted linebacker who also lined up on defense for a few snaps.

"It’s a blessing," Jones said. "I was so excited after my first catch I jumped up. I practiced both positions all week. It was fun."

Rookie running back Jalen Parmale, who was signed recently off the Miami Dolphins’ practice squad, rushed for a total of 27 yards on his first two NFL carries.

"That was great to get to do that," Parmale said. "I would have kept the ball if I had scored."

HONORED: The Ravens honored members of the 1958 Baltimore Colts at halftime, celebrating the 50th anniversary of their victory over the New York Giants in what is commonly described as "The Greatest Game Ever Played."

The group included Hall of Fame defensive tackle Art Donovan, running back Lenny Moore and wide receiver Raymond Berry.

"On behalf of all of us, we want to thank the people most responsible for letting us do what we loved to do, and that’s play football: the Baltimore fans," said Berry, according to the Associated Press.

Retired broadcasting legend Vince Bagli also introduced defensive backs Andy Nelson, Art DeCarlo, Jackie Simpson, Lenny Lyles and Ray Brown, offensive linemen Alex Sandusky and Dick Syzmanski, halfback Jack Call, tight end Jim Mutscheller, linebacker Leo Sanford and defensive end Ordell Braase.

The marching band spelled out "1958" during introductions.

"It’s cool to see those guys and see that some of these guys hang around here and still associate themselves with Baltimore," Flacco said. "It’s pretty neat to have that kind of loyalty."

QUICK HITS: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell attended the game in Ravens team owner Steve Bisciotti’s private box, sitting between Bisciotti and University of Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams. Goodell reiterated that he believes that referee Walt Coleman got the call right on Santonio Holmes’ controversial touchdown catch that allowed the Pittsburgh Steelers to win the AFC North title in Baltimore a few weeks ago. "The referee went through the right process," Goodell said before kickoff. "I’ve seen those replays and I’m supportive of his decision." Asked if it was indisputable evidence to overturn the original call of no touchdown, Goodell replied: "I’ve been supportive of his decision, yes." … Bisciotti broke the team huddle after director of player development O.J. Brigance addressed the team prior to kickoff. "To me, it was very fitting," coach John Harbaugh said. "Steve summed it up in one word: trust. That’s kind of what our guys have done a great job of. That’s probably the key to our success." … The Ravens are 46-0 when they have a plus-2 turnover ratio or better. The Ravens took away four turnovers and committed none Sunday, and finished the regular season plus-13 with 34 turnovers and 21 giveaways. … Free safety Ed Reed intercepted two more passes to finish with nine for the year and tied his franchise record that he set in 2004 when he was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year. The Ravens improved to 8-0 when he intercepts two or more passes. He couldn’t help himself from lateraling it to teammates again on his returns. "You’ve gotta be smart in those situations, the game was over," Reed said. "Glad we got the ball back and kneeled on it. I’ve gotta be smarter going forward. In the postseason, those plays will cost you."


Wide receiver Derrick Mason surpassed 10,000 receiving yards for his career and now has 790 career catches for 10,061 yards. He finished the season with 80 receptions for 1,037 yards. "It feels great, not too many people get to 10,000 yards, not even many greats," Mason said. "You put yourself in an elite class when you eclipse 10,000 yards: [Jerry] Rice, [Marvin] Harrison, [Cris] Carter, people like that. You put yourself in a class that not too many are in right now." … Wide receiver Mark Clayton caught four passes for a game-high 128 yards. … The Ravens extended their NFL-high streak of not allowing an opposing runner to rush for 100 yards to 35 games, holding Maurice Jones-Drew to 78 rushing yards. … The Ravens set franchise records for opposing quarterback rating (60.6), opposing rushing touchdowns (four), opposing rushing first downs (58) on defense. Offensively, the Ravens set franchise records with 20 rushing touchdowns, 132 rushing first downs and just 21 turnovers. …  The Ravens are the first team since the 1962 Green Bay Packers to hold opponents to no more than 13 points at home in a single season, allowing just 80 points in eight games at M&T Bank Stadium.


Punter Sam Koch finished the regular season with a 45.0 average and a 39.9 net average, breaking Kyle Richardson’s records. … The Ravens are excited about making another trip to South Florida for Sunday’s playoff game against the Miami Dolphins. … "I’m happy, it’s a warm place," said defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, who was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for an altercation at the end of the first half. "Hopefully, we can do exactly what we did last time." … Team president Dick Cass spoke with a referee following one of Stover’s field goals because of a problem with the stadium lights. … The Ravens didn’t report any new injuries. … The Ravens deactivated third quarterback Todd Bouman as well as return specialist Yamon Figurs (head), wide receiver Marcus Maxwell (hip), running back Ray Rice (calf contusion), cornerback Fabian Washington (toe), linebacker Antwan Barnes (chest) and offensive linemen Oniel Cousins and David Hale. … The Jaguars deactivated quarterback Paul Smith, wide receiver Nate Hughes, cornerback Calvin Lowry, linebacker Thomas Williams, offensive guard Cameron Stephenson, offensive tackle Jordan Black, defensive end Mkristo Bruce and defensive tackle Atiyyah Ellison.

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.

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Aaron Wilson

About Aaron Wilson

Aaron Wilson covers the NFL for National Football Post as well as the Baltimore Ravens for The Carroll County Times and He has previously covered the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans and has covered the NFL since 1997.  He has won several regional writing awards, including, most recently, Best Sports News Story for the state of Maryland in voting conducted by the Associated Press managing editors. 

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