-- The Baltimore Ravens continued to reestablish their identity as a team with a strong running game in Sunday's victory over the Cleveland Browns. They gained a total of 150 yards on the ground, averaged 4.5 yards per carry and broke one run of 52 yards that helped set up a score.
But the majority of the yardage, as well as the long run, came from backup tailback Chester Taylor. Jamal Lewis, the Ravens' workhorse, was held to 59 yards on 24 carries.
"I think I've got a big target on my chest out there," Lewis said after Baltimore's 16-3 win. "It just seemed like we practiced against the 3-4 defense all week, but they came out and ran a 6-2 in the middle of the field, goal-line type defense. It kind of threw us off a little bit. But other than that when I came out of the game, Chester ran the ball real good. It was tough sledding."
It's been a tough season for Lewis, who is off to the slowest start of his six-year career. Through five games, he has rushed for 292 yards and one touchdown on 98 carries. He is averaging 3.0 yards per carry, which falls well under his career average of 4.7 yards.
Opposing teams have long focused their attention on stopping Lewis, but especially so after he ran for the second-highest total in NFL history (2,066 yards) in 2003. Last season, Lewis ran for 1,006 yards, the lowest output of his career, but he was limited to 12 games because of suspension and injuries.
"Their defensive calls will be dictated, to a certain degree, by a Jamal Lewis in the game, based on what they think we're going to do, or the style of runner that Jamal might be, versus a Chester Taylor," Coach Brian Billick said during his weekly news conference. "Now, will they have to alter that thinking a little bit with Chester Taylor? Maybe."
Taylor has been the Ravens' most productive back this season. His average per carry (5.8 yards) is nearly double that of Lewis's, and he has rushed for 202 yards on 35 carries. He had 92 yards on eight carries against the Browns.
Despite Taylor's production, Billick said he doesn't plan on increasing his workload. Lewis is still the Ravens' primary back, and Billick said the team is "very lucky to have two outstanding backs."
Billick said that he felt Lewis did his best running in the latter part of the game against the Browns and that perhaps the Ravens (2-3) need to give him more carries.
"Getting the ball in Jamal's hands more, which is always a point of interest for everybody, lends itself to the old adage that a back doesn't get cranked up until he gets to that 20th, 25th run. That may have something to do with it," Billick said.
Lewis's longest run this season is 25 yards, and that came in the first quarter of the season opener against Indianapolis. Eight of his 98 carries have resulted in gains of 10 yards or more; 22 carries have gone for zero or negative yards.
He has yet to break 100 yards this season, which is the longest such stretch since his rookie season. His last 100-yard performance came in last year's finale, when he rushed for 167 yards on 34 carries in the Ravens' 30-23 win over Miami.
"The yards aren't there -- I'm not getting 150 yards a game, cranking out big runs -- but at the same time, you gotta look at it. I'm a target out there, and they're going to key off me," Lewis said. "That's where a guy like [quarterback] Anthony Wright or [wide receivers] Randy [Hymes] or [Derrick] Mason, those guys have to crank it off and open it up."
Ravens Notes: Safety Ed Reed suffered a high ankle sprain on Sunday and most likely will miss this week's game against the Chicago Bears, Billick said. Reed hopped off the field on one foot after injuring his right ankle early in the third quarter. X-rays taken on Sunday were negative.
Chad Williams, a fourth-year safety, and B.J. Ward, an undrafted rookie, will fill in for Reed. . . .
Quarterback Kyle Boller, who hyperextended his right big toe in the season opener, is undergoing more aggressive rehabilitation, and Billick said his availability for Sunday will be determined later this week.