J. Lewis asks to go to Ravens' minicamp


Jamal Lewis has submitted a request to the Federal Bureau of Prisons that could allow him to attend the Ravens' mandatory minicamp this month and report to training camp on time, his attorney confirmed yesterday.

The Ravens running back is scheduled to be released today from Federal Prison Camp in Pensacola, Fla., after serving a four-month term for pleading guilty to using a cell phone to arrange a drug deal in 2000. Lewis will be transported to Atlanta, where he has been ordered to live in a halfway house for the next two months.

Last week, it appeared as if the former All-Pro would stay in Atlanta until Aug. 2 after his lawyer, Jerome Froelich, said he probably wouldn't ask to move the location of the halfway house to the Baltimore area.

But according to Froelich, Lewis has now sought permission to attend the Ravens' June 13-16 minicamp. It's uncertain when the bureau will render its verdict on his requests.

"I'm still hopeful that we can have a certain amount of interaction with him here," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "If he can just be up here for the mandatory camp, I think that would be huge. If he can't truly be here, it's unfortunate but not an obstacle."

Froelich made his requests directly to the federal Bureau of Prisons, which has authority over Lewis until he is freed.

"The government [prosecutors] and the judge have no say," the attorney said. "It's strictly a bureau decision."

There also is a chance that Lewis will be able to leave the halfway house a couple of days early so he could avoid missing any portion of training camp, which begins Aug. 1 at McDaniel College.

Lewis, the NFL's 2003 Offensive Player of the Year, has led the Ravens in rushing in each of his four seasons.

"They seem to have a fair understanding of work obligations," Billick said. "When you're talking two or three days, I would hope reason would prevail and they would recognize that this guy needs to get about his work and he's paid his dues."

Meanwhile, the Ravens are set to welcome back another veteran.

The Ravens are in contract negotiations with Deion Sanders and appear increasingly optimistic that he will return as their nickel back as soon as Monday, the start of two weeks of full-team minicamps.

"As I have been, I'm supremely confident that Deion will be joining us," Billick said.

Sanders, a seven-time Pro Bowl cornerback, had minor toe surgery in the offseason and has yet to take a physical with the Ravens.

Phone calls to Sanders and his agent, Eugene Parker, were not returned.

Asked if a contract could be hammered out by Monday, general manager Ozzie Newsome said, "You never know. Eugene and I have done deals before, so that's a reason to be optimistic."

Considered one of the NFL's greatest defenders, Sanders ended his three-year retirement just before the start of last season by signing a one-year, $1.5 million contract with the Ravens.

Toe and hamstring injuries forced him to miss seven games and fail to finish two others. Despite the limited action, he was second on the team with three interceptions, running one back for a touchdown.

Sanders, who turns 38 in August, could share time at nickel back this season with Dale Carter, a role that could reduce the wear and tear of a full season.

But Billick said age is not a major concern with Sanders.

"I will promise you this: Deion can still play," Billick said. "Like any older player, you have to look at what his role is and what his practice regimen is. I saw nothing in his play that didn't indicate he couldn't continue to play at a very high productivity level."

Billick said he also considers Sanders' experience and presence in the locker room as assets.

"I've done a good deal of communicating with members of this football team face to face both here and about," Billick said. "I have not had a single player, coach or administrator that doesn't embrace the idea of Deion coming back."

Sun staff writers Jeff Barker and Brent Jones contributed to this article.

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