In past offseasons, Ray Lewis has sprinted on beaches in the Florida heat, hit the weights like a power lifter and climbed hills - relentlessly pushing himself in an attempt to come back the next season bigger and badder than he left the previous one.
These past few months, Lewis has developed a new strategy. The Pro Bowl linebacker said he did nothing for two months after the Ravens failed to make the playoffs, and he is seeing the fruits of his lack of labor now.
Lewis said he feels as strong as he has his entire life.
"What I did learn was that as well as you work your body, you have to treat it with the same respect with rest," Lewis said. "When you're young, you're just rolling, nothing really matters, its always going to work out. But the thing I did this offseason, which I think is one of the most peaceful things I've done in my career, was I really took time off."
What did Lewis fill his time with instead of physical activity?
"I spent a lot of time with God and a lot of time with my family," Lewis said. "I really got away from it, and my body responded tremendously."
Lewis is 260 pounds (15 more than his listed weight) but says he is comfortable playing there. In both practice sessions yesterday, the first day of training camp, Lewis looked fast and fresh.
"I let my body completely rest. I let my mind completely rest," Lewis said. "And now I think I appreciate football even more. You know really getting away from it and really coming back to it.
"Honestly, I'm 30, but I've never felt this strong in my life."
With high temperatures expected to be in the low-to-mid 90s today through the end of this week, Ravens coach Brian Billick is considering moving practice to the indoor facility in Owings Mills.
"We'll see," Billick said. "We're prepared that if it gets into what it was early last week, we may have to hoof it down to Owings Mills [the indoor facility]. There comes a point where it's just not prudent to be out here. Too many bad things can happen. So we have a plan to modify that if it indeed gets that bad."
It would be the first time under Billick the Ravens would have moved their practice because of the heat.
Guard Keydrick Vincent was relieved to be part of the Ravens' starting offensive line after leaving the Pittsburgh Steelers. Vincent spent four seasons with the Steelers.
"It's a whole different experience," Vincent said of his first day at camp. "All these coaches are down to earth when at the other place [with the Steelers], a lot of coaches you couldn't talk to. Here, it's a whole bunch of great guys on staff."
Vincent, 27, is the only different member on the starting offensive line. He already sees himself as part of the group.
"We all have to work together," Vincent said. "We have to come out here every day and work as a unit together."
In a hurry
Not wanting to waste any time, Ravens coaches held a full-pad morning practice. It was the first time the team has worked out in pads on the first day of training camp under Billick.
"Normally the first practice is a shell [shoulder pads only]," Billick said. "But we are in a short time frame, and we had to get right to it. So it was prudent to get them in pads right from the get-go."
The Ravens have 15 days of practice in Westminster.
All together now
The Ravens had their top four cornerbacks practicing for the first time, a feat especially appreciated by Chris McAlister, who missed training camp last season because of a contract dispute. McAlister was joined by Samari Rolle, Deion Sanders and Dale Carter.
"I'm in here, and I feel a lot better about being in here at camp and having the chance to perform, to create that bond with my teammates so we can get on the same rhythm," McAlister said.
Sun staff writer Kim Phelan contributed to this article.