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Lewis sees team, rather than 'I'

The Baltimore Sun

Ray Lewis sidestepped questions about his future with the Ravens, saying yesterday that he is focused on team issues and not individual ones.

The nine-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker is entering the final year of his contract and could become a free agent for the first time.

Lewis and the Ravens are negotiating an extension, but the sides are not believed to be close.

"That [contract] stuff is irrelevant from what we're trying to do now," Lewis said after the first practice of mandatory minicamp. "Whatever we're trying to do as a team, that's the focus. If we keep that team concept there, then that team concept stays there. If you start talking about individual, that means nothing. Everybody knows this is a business and everything will take care of itself. I'm just excited to be back playing football again."

Lewis, who turns 33 next week, will make $6.5 million this season.

Last month, owner Steve Bisciotti said the Ravens "would probably outbid other teams" if Lewis becomes a free agent. Another option is to keep Lewis by using the franchise tag on him.

Asked if he sees himself playing for the Ravens for a long time, Lewis said, "I see myself getting ready for the next practice and I see myself getting ready for the season. Like I said, once you start to get on that side of things, you lose your passion about why you play this game.

"I have never got caught up in that. If anybody has kept track of my career, everybody knows there has never been a camp that I've held out and there has never been a contract problem with me. It will never be that with me."

No timetable for Ogden

Jonathan Ogden did not show up for the mandatory minicamp, and the Ravens seem unsure when the 11-time Pro Bowl offensive tackle will decide whether to retire.

"J.O.'s a unique situation right now," coach John Harbaugh said. "I don't think you can think of it in terms of an absence, being here or not being here. He's trying to figure out what his future is. He talked to Ozzie [Newsome, general manager]. There's really nothing new to report. We'll play that one as it goes."

Sypniewski out for season

Ravens backup tight end Quinn Sypniewski is out for the season with a torn knee ligament, Harbaugh said.

Sypniewski had surgery to repair the knee ligament, which tore off the bone, according to Harbaugh. The recovery will take between six to nine months.

End zone

The Ravens practiced outside despite a heavy downpour. Under Brian Billick, the team regularly practiced in the indoor facility during bad weather. Besides Ogden and Sypniewski, linebacker Terrell Suggs (franchise tag) was the only other notable absence on the field. Antwan Barnes, a fourth-round pick in 2007, filled in for Suggs in the starting lineup. ... During team drills, Jason Brown played right guard and Ben Grubbs worked at left guard. Last season, they were flip-flopped.

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