Carroll County Times

Ravens Notebook: Lewis further denies using banned substance

NEW ORLEANS - Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis further denied the Sports Illustrated report that said he used a banned substance to aid in his recovery from the torn triceps he suffered in mid-October - this time even more strongly than he did during Media Day Tuesday.

Mitch Ross, co-owner of S.W.A.T.S (Sports with Alternatives to Steroids) told Sports Illustrated that Lewis contacted him hours after Lewis suffered the torn triceps and that he provided Lewis with a package of products to expedite his recovery from the injury. The package of products reportedly included a deer antler velvet spray, which Sports Illustrated reported contains IGF-1, a substance banned by the NFL.

"I think, honestly, and I am going to say it very clearly again, I think it's probably one of the most embarrassing things that we can do on this type of stage," Lewis said, later adding, "The reason why I am smiling is because it is so funny of a story, because I never, ever, took what [Ross] says I - whatever I was supposed to do.

"It's just sad, once again, that someone can have this much attention on a stage this big where the dreams are really real. They are really real. I don't need it, my teammates don't need it, the 49ers don't need it, nobody needs it, because it just really shows you how people really plan things and try to attack people from the outside. It's foolish. It's very foolish, and the guy [Ross] has no credibility. He's been sued four or five times over the same B.S. Just to entertain it, I can't, I won't and I just truly believe he doesn't have the privilege for me to speak about it ever again."

The 37-year-old Lewis returned to practice Dec. 5, less than two months after sustaining the torn triceps - an injury that typically takes four months to heal. He was back on the field for the Ravens' playoff opener against the Indianapolis Colts Jan. 6.

His 44 tackles in the playoffs are a team-high for Baltimore and rank as the second-most in a single postseason since 2000.

"I've been in this game 17 years, 17-plus good years, and I have a heck of a relationship and too much respect for the business, and for my body, to ever violate it like that," Lewis said. "So, to entertain foolishness like that from cowards who come from the outside and try to destroy what we've built, like I just said, it's sad to even entertain it on this type of stage."

Ravens coach John Harbaugh also downplayed the allegations.

"[Ray] kind of laughed about it and told me there's nothing to it," Harbaugh said. "He told me the same thing he told you guys. Ray is honest. Ray is straight forward. He's told us in the past [that] he's never taken any of that stuff, ever. I believe Ray. I trust Ray completely. We have a relationship. I know this man, and I know what he's all about. It's too bad that this has to be something that gets so much play."

ELLERBE PRACTICES: Banged-up Ravens linebacker Dannell Ellerbe was a full participant in practice Wednesday after missing all three days of practice last week.

Ellerbe's been hampered by a sprained ankle since late November, and he's also dealing with toe and back injuries. But Ellerbe said Tuesday that he's "definitely" playing Sunday and, according to a Pool Report from Wednesday's practice, ran without a limp Wednesday.

Ellerbe missed three games toward the end of the regular season, but he has 34 tackles in the five games since returning to the lineup, including 23 in the playoffs.

Ellerbe had five tackles during the Ravens' AFC championship victory over the New England Patriots despite playing through what he described as "the most pain I've played [through] in my entire career."

"[But] I feel a lot better," Ellerbe said. "And it's the Super Bowl, so I'm not sitting out."

Baltimore had no player that was anything less than a full participant in practice Wednesday.

BEST ATHLETE ON THE TEAM: Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata was asked Wednesday who he considers to be the best overall athlete on the team.

His answer?

"I'd say it's probably [punter] Sam Koch. You watch him in practice doing all of the different things he can do and it's pretty amazing. He can throw the ball, he can kick it, throw it with his non-dominant hand. He can do a lot of amazing things. It's pretty crazy."

Koch scored an 8-yard touchdown on a fake field goal earlier in the season. He also made an open field tackle to prevent a touchdown during the Ravens' December loss to the Washington Redskins after chasing down Redskins punt returner Richard Crawford. And against the Denver Broncos in the divisional round of the playoffs, Koch nearly chased down Broncos punt returner Trindon Holliday, an eight-time All-American in track at LSU, on Holliday's 89-yard punt return for a score.

Added Ravens outside linebacker Paul Kruger on Koch: "Sam Koch is really athletic. He has a lot of skill. He can pick up a golf club. He can play basketball, baseball and just do anything."

Ngata also mentioned outside linebacker Terrell Suggs as "an amazing athlete for how big he is and how fast he can move."

Kruger, meanwhile, said the top three athletes on the team are himself, backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor and Ngata.

"Tyrod is just explosive," Kruger said. "He's the guy - I think he's probably right around six foot - who can dunk a basketball any way you want him to. He's shifty. He's fast. He's just kind of one of those guys who can just do anything.

"Haloti [Ngata] - a guy who's 350 [pounds], a giant man - can move like he's a running back. It's very rare to see somebody at that size be so athletic."

Reach staff writer Matt Zenitz at 410-857-7896 or