-- For a change, Baltimore Ravens Coach Brian Billick did not have to address how the Ravens would cope with the sudden loss of a player to injury or suspension during his weekly news conference. Instead, Billick could talk about welcoming back a player -- in this case, Pro Bowl running back Jamal Lewis.
Lewis has completed his two-game NFL suspension for violating the league's drug policy and will return to the Ravens this week, ready to play against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday night.
The Ravens (4-3) split the games without their leading rusher; they lost to the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles, 15-10, on Sunday, a week after beating Buffalo, 20-6. Backups Chester Taylor and Musa Smith filled in capably, combining for 203 yards on 50 carries in the two games, but it still wasn't the same as having the punishing, physical Lewis.
"Taking nothing away from Chester and Musa, you probably would think so," said Billick, when asked if the past two games would have been different with Lewis playing. "With a guy that's had 2,000 yards, the physical style of play, you would think so, yeah, and that's taking nothing away from those two other young men. Jamal Lewis is a special back. He has proven that."
Lewis has been working out during his suspension and should be able to take on his normal load against the Browns (3-4). Keeping Lewis fresh and minimizing the pounding that he takes throughout the season is a constant balancing act for the Ravens, who rely heavily on the 5-foot-11, 245-pound back. Lewis has 105 carries heading into the eighth game of the season; at this point last year, he had 166.
"He's not coming back off of injury," Billick said. "He ought to be fresh and feeling good. With it just being two games, I can't imagine he's not ready to go and carrying as much as he normally does. He probably feels as good as anybody on this team right now, rested and physical."
The Ravens will wait until later in the week to update the status of left tackle Jonathan Ogden (hamstring) and tight end Todd Heap (ankle), though the two Pro Bowlers will most likely be listed as questionable on Wednesday's injury report.
"We've been down this enough times," Billick said. "I'd be guessing until we actually get them out there."
Linebacker Peter Boulware will begin practicing this week in full pads; the four-time Pro Bowler and Baltimore's all-time sacks leader has not played or practiced since undergoing offseason knee surgery. Boulware will remain on the physically unable to perform list, and the Ravens will have a three-week period to determine whether to activate him, release him, or keep him on the physically unable to perform list.
"Now it's a matter of getting an entire training camp, a preseason, and six or seven games, accelerated into as short a period as we can, to get Peter up and ready to go," Billick said. "He is medically cleared to practice, which I would imagine means he's medically cleared to play. And obviously now the next step is to get the doctors and trainers and Peter to say when he's actually ready to play."
Ravens Notes: Rookie wide receiver Clarence Moore, the sixth-round draft pick out of Division I-AA Northern Arizona, got his most extensive action, taking about 45 snaps against the Eagles, second only to starter Travis Taylor. He finished with 82 yards on three catches, two of which were especially impressive: a leaping 16-yarder along the left sideline in which he kept his feet inbounds, and a 52-yarder that helped set up the Ravens' touchdown.
Moore, who was a long shot to make the 53-man roster coming out of training camp, has seven catches for 108 yards, and his average of 15.4 yards per catch is highest among Baltimore's receivers. . . .
Backup quarterback Anthony Wright, who underwent offseason shoulder surgery, said he expects to be activated from the physically unable to perform list next week. He resumed practicing last week and said that he feels good, although his shoulder is a little sore. . . . Center Mike Flynn, who has been sidelined since breaking his collarbone during training camp, was on the active roster against Philadelphia but did not play. Billick said that Flynn will be part of the rotation against Cleveland this week, most likely at guard.