Ray Lewis signs contract extension with dlrs 19 million bonus


Friday, August 2nd 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6



WESTMINSTER, Maryland (AP) _ Ray Lewis agreed to a five-year contract extension that includes a dlrs 19 million signing bonus and keeps the All-Pro linebacker with the Ravens through 2008.

Lewis' new seven-year contract is worth approximately dlrs 50 million. Lewis had two years left on a deal that was to pay him dlrs 4.75 million each year.

Lewis led the NFL with 196 tackles last year and was selected to the Pro Bowl for a fifth straight time. He was a key figure in the Ravens' drive to the Super Bowl in 2000, and clearly is the most important element in the team's effort to regroup from a sweeping salary-cap purge during the offseason.

``I truly believe that they truly respect what I did, and what I am still able to do for this organization,'' Lewis said Thursday. ``This is where I started my foundation, and this is where I wanted to end it. Now I can.''

Said Ravens' coach Brian Billick: ``When Ray goes, I'll go. If that's the way it works out, it will be fine with me.''

Since coming to Baltimore as the 26th overall pick in the 1996 NFL draft, Lewis has been the Ravens' leading tackler in each of his six seasons. He led the league in tackles in 1997, '99 and last year, when he also registered a career-high tying three interceptions and 3 1/2 sacks.

With a big assist from Lewis, the Ravens made the playoffs for a second straight year in 2001. Now the 6-foot-1 (1.85-meter-tall) 245-pounder (110-kilograms) finds himself in the middle of a massive rebuilding project.

Lewis has bounced back after his troubles two years ago, when he was charged in the stabbing deaths of two men after a Super Bowl party. He pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of obstruction of justice, was put on probation for one year and fined dlrs 250,000 by the NFL for ``detrimental conduct.''

He returned the next season to take the Ravens to their first world championship, being named NFL defensive player of the year and earning the Super Bowl MVP trophy.

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STOCKTON, California (AP) _ The 49ers arrived for the American Bowl in Osaka, Japan, and announced that they want to keep a Japanese player added to the roster just for the game.

Linebacker Masafumi Kawaguchi impressed Steve Mariucci so much that the San Francisco coach asked the NFL for a special roster exemption so Kawaguchi can return to training camp after the game against the Washington Redskins on Sunday.

The Redskins, meanwhile, landed in Japan with one fewer player than expected.

Reserve defensive end Otis Leverette, expected to be a regular part for the defensive line rotation this season, was diagnosed with a ligament injury that will sideline him about six weeks.

Kawaguchi joined the 49ers' camp in Stockton, California, last week, signing the usual 10-day contract as part of the NFL's traditional gesture of giving local American Bowl fans a special rooting interest. The Redskins were assigned receiver Akihito Amaya.

A six-year veteran of NFL Europe, he came to camp hoping his teammates would see him as something more than an Osaka tour guide.

``I told the guys that if I take care of them in Japan, they've got to take care of me with a job,'' Kawaguchi said.

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Florida (AP) _ Tampa Bay running back Michael Pittman, sidelined this week by a right ankle sprain, might return to practice on Friday.

Pittman, signed during the offseason after the Bucs lost Warrick Dunn to free agency, has been limited to light jogging and personal drills since spraining his ankle Monday _ the first day of training camp.

He dressed in pads Thursday, but did not participate in any contact drills.

``I was kind of frustrated because I wanted to get out there. But they're just looking out for the best for me,'' Pittman said.

Meanwhile, fullback Mike Alstott returned to practice after missing part of Wednesday's morning workout, as well as the entire afternoon session, because of cramps. Alstott has a history of hamstring pulls in training camp.

``My body just doesn't take two-a-days well. ... We've got a plan for me. I'll practice hard in the morning and taper off a little bit in the afternoon,'' he said.

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NASHVILLE, Tennessee (AP) _ Defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, Tennessee's the first-round pick, has a severe sprain of the right ankle and might miss a month of camp.

Tests Thursday showed that Haynesworth sustained ligament damage when he stepped on the foot of a teammate during a workout Wednesday.

``He'll have to be completely immobilized for a week to 10 days, and I've been told that this could take as long as a month for him to come back,'' coach Jeff Fisher said.

The Titans open the season Sept. 8 against Philadelphia.

Haynesworth was injured during only his third preseason practice. He missed the first week of drills during contract negotiations.