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Hurricane forcing Ravens to depart early for San Diego

The things Ravens coach Brian Billick can control during his team's extended stay in San Diego this week are basic.

"I can control when they get up, when they eat, when they practice and when they go to bed," said Billick, who will take the Ravens to the West Coast this afternoon to avoid any potential travel problems associated with Hurricane Isabel.

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"In between, it's up to them to have the discipline to do what they ought to be doing."

That would include staying focused for Sunday's game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium and not succumbing to the temptations a five-day stay in that picturesque area can offer.

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The Ravens held a 25-minute meeting yesterday, normally a day off for the players, to discuss the logistics of the trip, which will mark the earliest the team has ever left for a regular-season game.

The original departure date was Friday afternoon.

"We're young but we're very obedient," linebacker Ray Lewis said. "We're very disciplined in doing the right thing.

"Yeah, we're going to San Diego, but it's still a business trip. I'm sure everybody who is here has been somewhere else [pleasant] before."

The Ravens will practice on the San Diego State campus tomorrow and Friday, then have a walk-through at Qualcomm Stadium on Saturday. The team expects to be able to keep much of its normal routine, despite the three-hour time difference.

Billick plans to keep an Eastern time schedule, meaning 5 a.m. Pacific time wakeup calls and 9 p.m. curfews. With a more regimented schedule than normal, the trip is far from a vacation, though the team is staying in a luxurious beach-front hotel.

"This is truly a training camp mentality, and it's going to feel like training camp based on where they have to be and what they have to be doing," Billick said. "We hopefully can use that to our advantage."

Team officials began making arrangements for a possible early departure Sunday after reports tracked the hurricane's path toward the East Coast.

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There is a good chance that if the Ravens had stayed here, the team would have been forced inside a gymnasium to continue its preparations because of expected heavy wind and rain.

"We can't take the chance, given the reports for Thursday and Friday, to be forced off the field and off our routine to that degree," Billick said. "We were planning to go to San Diego on Friday anyway, so this ups it a little bit.

"I don't know that it's an advantage or disadvantage. It's what's required."

It would be a disadvantage if the Ravens mismanage their time, or fall into the temptations of a vibrant nightlife.

"I'm from Oklahoma, so I'd rather stay in my hotel room and watch movies anyway," defensive tackle Kelly Gregg said. "Coach Billick said he's buying the movies, so I'm going to stay in there and get caught up on my Terminator 3."

Billick should hope all his players have that mind-set. One thing is certain - nearby Mexico is off limits.

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"They are not going to have much time to get down there," Billick said. "And I know how to get down there because I lived [in San Diego] for five years."

NOTES: Billick said he expects quarterback Kyle Boller to practice today. Boller left Sunday's game in the third quarter with a sprained knee and did not return. ... The Ravens released end Nate Bolling and receiver Marc Lester (Morgan State) from the practice squad and signed receiver Kareem Kelly, a sixth-round selection by the New Orleans Saints, and guard Michael Early, who spent time with the Minnesota Vikings last season. ... Jamal Lewis' 82-yard touchdown run against the Browns was nominated for the NFL's Play of the Week. Fans can vote on NFL.com. ... Linebacker Adalius Thomas played host to a screening at the Valley Center movie theatres last night for 200 students in his mentoring program. ... Several Ravens participated in the "Ravens Gatorade Jr. Training Camp" at Randallstown High School last night.


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