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J. Lewis off-limits; Sanders is toe away


The signing of Deion Sanders was delayed a day, but the Ravens' wait for Jamal Lewis will be much longer.

Lewis' request to attend next week's mandatory minicamp was rejected by the Federal Bureau of Prisons yesterday, meaning the former Pro Bowl running back will have to remain in Atlanta for the last two months of his federal drug conspiracy sentence.

His halfway-house term will be completed by either Aug. 1 or Aug. 2, which will cause Lewis to miss the start of training camp (July 31). There will no leniency to allow the 2003 NFL Offensive Player of the Year to report to camp on time, Lewis' lawyer said.

"It's disappointing, especially since every time I turn on the TV, Martha Stewart is all over the country doing something," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "Evidently, she has a different furlough guy than Jamal."

Lewis was transferred to a halfway house in Atlanta on Friday after serving four months at a minimum-security federal work camp in Pensacola, Fla. He pleaded guilty in October to using a cell phone to try to set up a cocaine deal in 2000.

The Ravens had sent a letter to the managers of the halfway house explaining the importance of Lewis spending time with trainers to complete his rehabilitation from offseason ankle surgery.

The denial by the Federal Bureau of Prisons also prohibits Lewis from visiting his Charlotte, N.C.-based surgeon. Arrangements will be made for the surgeon to travel to Lewis in Atlanta, his lawyer said.

"The rules say wherever your halfway house is, you're not allowed to leave that district," said Jerome Froelich, one of Lewis' attorneys. "That's their policy and they're not going to make an exception to it. And Jamal understands that's their policy."

Lewis said he has been running for more than a month and expects to be close to full strength by training camp.

Billick said he wouldn't classify the ruling as a setback in Lewis' recovery.

"The most important thing for me is whether he'll have adequate time and facility to work out now. As I understand it, he's going to have plenty of time and access to crank his rehab up," Billick said. "I wish he didn't have to miss next week's minicamp, but it's not insurmountable."

Meanwhile, the holdup with Sanders is more of a logistical problem than a medical one.

His physical at the Ravens' training complex could not be completed because the surgeon who performed minor work on a toe on Sanders' left foot this offseason is not in the area. The results of Sanders' magnetic resonance imaging test were sent overnight to his doctor, who will discuss them this morning with Leigh Ann Curl, the team's chief orthopedic surgeon.

The Ravens are likely taking a cautious approach with the 37-year-old cornerback, and a team official said this snag is not any cause for concern.

Once the Ravens have medically cleared Sanders, the seven-time Pro Bowl defender will sign a one-year, $1.5 million contract that could balloon to $4 million with playing-time incentives.

Sanders left the Ravens' complex yesterday without comment.

Toe and hamstring injuries limited Sanders to nine games last year, his first season since retiring in 2001. Still, he was only one of three NFL players to intercept three passes despite playing less than 10 games.

Sanders' appearance coincided with the return of two Pro Bowl defenders. Middle linebacker Ray Lewis and safety Ed Reed, both of whom had skipped the previous two voluntary passing camps, practiced with the team yesterday. The workout was closed to the media, and players were not made available.

Besides Jamal Lewis, the only player not expected to attend is Terrell Suggs. The linebacker is scheduled to stand trial June 13 on two counts of aggravated assault.

NOTE: The Miami Dolphins hired Randy Mueller as their general manager, ending speculation that Ravens director of pro personnel George Kokinis might leave. Kokinis was reportedly a top candidate for the job.

An article in yesterday's Sports section misidentified the agency that denied running back Jamal Lewis' request to attend the Ravens minicamp. The U.S. Probation Office in Atlanta rejected his request.The Sun regrets the errors.
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