Baltimore Ravens cornerback Corey Fuller appeared to be in a sour mood at the end of practice on Wednesday morning.
Maybe he was tired of answering questions about the potential un-retirement of his longtime friend, Deion Sanders. Or perhaps he had grown weary of hearing about the Ravens' upcoming meeting with Terrell Owens, the Pro Bowl wide receiver who wriggled out of a trade to the Ravens in the offseason and has been involved in a "war of words" with Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis ever since.
"I'm fine, but we're talking about T.O., and we're in Baltimore. The man didn't come to Baltimore," Fuller said. "Why are we making a big deal out of it? The man's been talking since he got into the NFL. It's part of his nature. You can't hate him or dislike him for that; that's just Terrell Owens."
The Ravens (1-0) will face the Eagles (0-1) in Philadelphia on Friday night, the first of two highly anticipated meetings this season. Baltimore returns to Lincoln Financial Field on Oct. 31. Aside from the juicy subplot of the supposed conflict between two of the most popular and charismatic players in the NFL, both teams consider themselves Super Bowl contenders.
The Ravens thought they had acquired the receiving help they desperately needed when they sent a second-round pick to San Francisco in exchange for Owens in March. But Owens refused to report to Baltimore for his physical, and the trade was nullified, with Owens going to the Eagles instead.
Lewis, who had tried to recruit Owens at the Pro Bowl, criticized the wide receiver during a radio interview in May, saying that Owens "is a man that went away from and against his word. . . . Sooner or later, he's going to have to run into me one way or the other. It's hard to respect guys that pose and do things like that."
At the start of training camp, Owens told reporters that Lewis "is not the hardest hitter to play the game of football," and that he wouldn't shy away from playing his style of football and going across the middle.
Lewis lashed back, telling cbs.sportsline.com: "Let me tell you something real quick. I never proclaimed to be the hardest hitter. Second and foremost, tell T.O. to keep my name out of his mouth. I play football for the Baltimore Ravens. We are not in his division. I don't care nothing about this guy. Why does he need me to make his reputation?
"Tell him I'm tired of that. I play football. And, sooner or later, no matter how much he talks about what he's not scared to do, he still has to line up and play football."
This week, however, the pro wrestling-style posturing and rhetoric subsided, aside from Baltimore Coach Brian Billick comparing media members who have focused on the feud and have misrepresented his comments to "petulant second graders going from one end of the schoolyard to the other."
Starters on both sides are expected to play only the first quarter, and the Ravens will be without two starters, tackle Orlando Brown (personal issue) and defensive end Marques Douglas (dislocated elbow).
Quarterback Kyle Boller will get roughly 25 snaps, and then give way to Kordell Stewart and Josh Harris. In the Ravens' 24-0 victory over Atlanta on Aug. 12, Boller settled down after a rough start and directed Baltimore on a 95-yard scoring drive that was capped by a 12-yard touchdown pass to rookie tight end Daniel Wilcox.
Ravens Note: The team will not practice Saturday and will resume practices Sunday at McDaniel College in Westminster, Md., working out from 8:45 to 11 a.m. and from 3 to 4 p.m. Practices are free and open to the public. The Ravens practice at McDaniel through Tuesday.