Coach Brian Billick talks about improving the Baltimore Ravens "incrementally." The position most in flux lately has been wide receiver, with two upgrades in less than two months and another in the works today.
At the moment, the only reliable and productive wide receiver is Jermaine Lewis. He had six touchdown catches last season, and each covered at least 50 yards. Because Lewis made the Pro Bowl as a kick returner last year, Billick wants to cut back on his every-down plays.
On April 27, the Ravens signed seven-year veteran Qadry Ismail. Before the six-day minicamp that began here Monday, the Ravens added 13-year veteran Webster Slaughter. They met here today with free agent Billy Davis, 27, who had 39 catches for 691 yards and three touchdowns last season for the Dallas Cowboys.
"He has size, speed and has been in the league," Billick said of Davis. "We're hopeful that he sees . . . this is a team in need of wide receivers."
Ravens vice president of player personnel Ozzie Newsome called the talks with Davis "a chance to get acquainted."
Davis left the Ravens complex without meeting with reporters. A Ravens source said Davis planned to visit other teams.
The Ravens began last season hopeful that Michael Jackson would recapture the exceptional form that earned him a three-year contract with a $3 million signing bonus two years ago. However, his production continued to regress and the Ravens released him during the offseason. He remains unsigned.
Patrick Johnson, the second-round draft choice in 1998 who did not meet expectations after a brilliant preseason, has assumed the position opposite Lewis during most of the spring practices. The coaches have been impressed with rookie fourth-round draft choice Brandon Stokley, who averaged more than 100 yards in receptions during his career at Southwest Louisiana.
During his three seasons with the Ravens, Lewis has been highly productive but also prone to injuries. Last season, he missed three games late in the season with an ankle injury. Billick believes Lewis must play no more than about 60 plays at wide receiver to remain in top form returning kicks, especially punts.
Last season, 10-year veteran Floyd Turner and four-year veteran James Roe each started three games. They are regarded as smart and sure-handed, but not talented enough to be full-time starters.