Posted by Sarah Ellison on Thursday, July 26th, 2012 at 9:15 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison
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Did Lewis Lose Too Much Weight?

Jamison Hensley admits it’s hard to second guess Ray Lewis’ decisions.

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After all, he will go down as perhaps the greatest linebacker to play the game, and he has managed to play beyond expectations as he enters his 17th NFL season as a three-down player.

But Hensley, and a few other analysts, are questioning the future Hall of Famer anyway.

Lewis told media yesterday that he is “much lighter” than his listed playing weight of 240 pounds, which is already a significant drop from his previous listing of 250. He wouldn’t reveal his exact weight, saying he’ll keep that to himself.

Lewis said playing lighter is the “smarter” thing to do because he doesn’t have to face 260-pound fullbacks anymore, and will instead have to keep up with quicker, elusive tight ends like the Rob Gronkowski’s and Aaron Hernandez’s of the world.

“This is rationale thinking considering the NFL has turned into a passing league, and it’s hard to second-guess perhaps the greatest linebacker to ever play the game,” wrote Hensley. “But you have to wonder whether Lewis lost too much weight this offseason.”

“Those 260-pound fullbacks may be becoming obsolete today, but violent collisions are not,” added Matt Vensel of The Baltimore Sun.

Hensley, Vensel and’s Jason Butt, all argue that Lewis’ primary responsibility as a middle linebacker is to stop the run, which will be a challenge in a hard-nosed division like the AFC North.

The Browns just used their first-round draft pick on Trent Richardson (228 pounds). The Bengals boast an accomplished back in BenJarvus Green-Ellis (220 pounds) and the Steelers hope to re-establish their run game this year with Isaac Redman (230 pounds).

“Still, you have to respect Lewis’ longevity,” wrote Hensley. “When he goes against Richardson, he’s facing a back who was 5 years old when Lewis played his first game in the NFL.”

With Lewis commanding the middle of the defense, the Ravens have never allowed more than 3.9 yards per carry in any season, according to Hensley. Can a sub-240 Lewis keep it that way? And will he be more susceptible to injury with a lighter frame?

“It seems inevitable that this will be scrutinized by commentators and armchair quarterbacks in Baltimore and beyond,” Vensel concluded.

Ray Knows

When running back Ray Rice reported to camp, he was sporting a “Ray Knows” t-shirt.

Asked if the shirt was referring to himself or Ray Lewis, Rice said it can be applied to either Ray.

Well, when it came to predicting whether safety Ed Reed would report to training camp, it was Ray Lewis who hit the nail on the head. Lewis said in early June at mandatory minicamp, which Reed skipped for unknown reasons, that the future Hall of Fame safety would attend training camp.

And he was right.

“For me, it was never a question if Ed was going to be at camp or not,” Lewis told media yesterday. “There’s a couple of guys on this team, when you see their face, it’s going to be alright. And he’s one of those guys. Ed is maturing into a man and understanding that there are other things outside of the game that are way more important. But at the same time, it’s a business … and Ed understands that ‘when it’s time for me to show up, I’m here.’”

Maybe the “Ray Knows” mantra should be applied to his weight loss too.

Ravens Roster Maxed Out

In case you missed it, the Ravens made three signings yesterday.

They added a pair of former Oakland Raiders linebackers, Ricky Brown and Darryl Blackstock, plus veteran guard Cord Howard, who spent some of the 2010 season on injured reserve with the Buffalo Bills and was out of football last year.

By John Eisenberg’s count, that brings Baltimore to the maximum 90 players it’s allowed to have on the roster as training camp begins.

So if the Ravens want to add another veteran such as guard Eric Steinbach, who worked out for the Ravens this week but remains unsigned, they would have to make a cut.

Flacco Refuses To Be Distracted

Quarterback Joe Flacco has given agent Joe Linta explicit instructions.

Now that training camp is in full force, he does not want to be distracted, or even hear about, contract negotiations. This is according to NFL Network’s Albert Breer.

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But Linta still has the green light to continue the process of working out a new deal with the Ravens as his client enters the final year of his rookie contract.

“The only distraction for Joe would be me calling him,” Linta said. “I’ve been doing this a long time, and I’ve rarely seen a guy so single-minded. …

“The most telling quote from Joe I can give you is that he told me, ‘I’ve got a contract, and I’m gonna honor it.‘ He’s part of a rare breed in this day and age.”