Ravens resting J. Lewis until Tampa Bay

Ravens resting J. Lewis until Tampa Bay

OWINGS MILLS -- Jamal Lewis is almost completely recovered from a nagging hip injury, but the Baltimore Ravens aren't inclined toward potentially putting the former Pro Bowl runner at risk.

Lewis won't play Thursday night at FedEx Field against the Washington Redskins, resting his strained left hip flexor for the second consecutive game even though he returned to practice Monday.

"He's had a solid week," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "That puts us a week ahead of schedule, but I don't think it would be prudent for him to go."

Lewis, who rushed for a career-low 906 rushing yards, three touchdowns and a 3.3 average per carry last season, said he's confident he'll be 100 percent for the Sept. 10 regular-season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"It's barely bothering me now, and the soreness is almost all the way gone," said Lewis, a former NFL Offensive Player of the Year who rushed for 2,066 yards in 2003. "I'm feeling good and I'm sure I'm going to be running like my old self by the time we get to Tampa Bay. I can't wait for the regular season to start."

EXTRA JOB: Rookie tight end Quinn Sypniewski is intent on increasing his value even though he's pretty much assured of a roster spot behind starter Todd Heap and backup Daniel Wilcox.

The sixth-round draft pick from Colorado has been practicing his long-snapping and has looked adept enough that special teams coordinator Frank Gansz told him he wouldn't be unduly concerned if regular long snapper Matt Katula got hurt.

"It's huge," Billick said. "God forbid someone goes down. We got there in 2001. We went through two or three. You've got to have somebody who can get you out of a game if something happened to the snapper.

"The more you can do, the better. He's a smart young man for expanding on those skills because it's an easy way to stay on our roster."

FINAL TUNE-UP: Rookie wide receiver Demetrius Williams has long been regarded as the sleeper of the Ravens' draft, and he has backed up that assertion by catching five passes for 70 yards during the preseason.

He's contending with Devard Darling and Clarence Moore for the third receiver job.

"I want to go out there, play hard and make sure I don't miss any assignments," Williams said. "You want to get that game feeling and go out there and make as many plays as possible."

REDSKINS ARE STRUGGLING: The Ravens aren't the only area NFL team under intense scrutiny after lackluster preseason outings.

The Redskins' opponents have averaged over 35 minutes of time of possession, registered 68 first downs, converted 43 percent of their third downs and posted 357 yards of total offense per game while scoring 10 touchdowns.

Washington has gained only three yards per carry, scored just two touchdowns, allowed 10 sacks, thrown five interceptions and its quarterbacks have a cumulative passer rating of 53.2 with starter Mark Brunell leading the charge with a 48.1.

Not surprisingly with those unsightly statistics, the Redskins are winless after three games.

"We are really in a tough time right now," Redskins coach Joe Gibbs said. "I think it starts with me and I need to do a good job of analyzing myself and how I can help the team because we are in a tough situation losing three games the way we did."

TRAINING ROOM: Safety Gerome Sapp (abdominal infection) and offensive guard Brian Rimpf (hamstring) didn't practice and won't play against the Redskins.

QUICK HIT: The Ravens are holding a "Countdown to Kickoff" week beginning Tuesday that includes a sold-out luncheon with the players and coaches, a kickoff party on Thursday at M&T Bank Stadium and several downtown parties on Friday.

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times

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