- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 11, 2001

WESTMINSTER, Md. Five veterans auditioned for the job of Baltimore Ravens' featured running back yesterday, but apparently the Super Bowl champions are willing to wait a little longer to see if a better deal emerges.
Chris Warren, Greg Hill, Terry Allen, Mario Bates and Robert Chancey participated in the 30-minute workout in hopes of replacing injured star running back Jamal Lewis, who blew out his left knee during Wednesday morning's practice.
The team contacted former Ravens back Errict Rhett on Thursday but isn't expected to work out Rhett because he was in the Cleveland Browns' training camp and the Ravens are familiar with his history. Baltimore may sign the 30-year-old Rhett sometime this weekend, and he should come cheap. That would afford the Ravens the luxury of signing another running back.
Hill ran the fastest 40-yard dash time, Allen looked the best during the skills drills and Warren is perhaps the most complete package. As of last night, the Ravens had not signed anyone.
If the Ravens are to sign one of the free agents, the likeliest candidates appear to be Allen or Warren, two 33-year-old workhorses.
"We're going to take a look at the tape and see if we need to [have another tryout]," said running backs coach Matt Simon, who conducted yesterday's workout. "Obviously, we need to do whatever it takes at this particular point, but we're going to take a look at the tape and see if we see all the things we need."
ESPN.com reported last night that the Ravens had agreed to a one-year, $477,000 deal with Allen, pending the results of a physical. However, Ozzie Newsome, Ravens vice president of player personnel, denied the report.
"We have not signed a running back and we will not sign a running back today," Newsome told the Associated Press last night.
That doesn't mean that Allen, Warren or even Rhett won't be signed as early as today. However, the Ravens want to be patient.
The Ravens have said all along that they are not in a hurry to replace Lewis with the Sept. 9 season opener against the Chicago Bears almost a month away. The Ravens also would like some time to field trade offers that may be proposed and wait to see if rookie fifth-round draft pick Chris Barnes or second-year man Jason Brookins can develop into a featured back.
Asked who is going to be his starting running back for Monday's opening preseason game in Philadelphia, Ravens coach Brian Billick unhesitatingly replied, "Brookins."
Allen, who played four years with the Washington Redskins, rushed for 179 yards in four games last season with the New Orleans Saints. Allen's best year was in 1996, when he rushed for 1,353 yards and 21 touchdowns for the Redskins. Allen has a connection to Billick having played in Minnesota in 1993 and '94, when Billick was the offensive coordinator.
Warren, who lives in Bethesda, is a 12-year NFL veteran and a potential feel-good story among the backs who worked out yesterday. He split duty last season between the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles, carrying 74 times for 296 yards.
Warren played eight seasons (1990-97) for the Seattle Seahawks and enjoyed his best year in 1994 with a career-high 1,545 yards on 333 carries. He has rushed for 7,696 career yards.
Warren, 33, knows playing for the Ravens is a good situation for him. Baltimore is close to home, the Ravens have a good chance of going back to the Super Bowl and the team is desperate.
"I couldn't write it any better than this," Warren said. "I became a free agent and didn't pursue any teams. This is the reason why. I wanted to play for a contender, I wanted to play on grass and play close to home. This is a perfect opportunity for me."
Meanwhile, Hill thought he had a job with the Redskins after participating in an April minicamp. Hill, who sat out last season, was drafted out of Texas A&M; by Redskins coach Marty Schottenheimer when he was with the Kansas City Chiefs. But the player had some scathing words for the way Schottenheimer's Redskins conduct business.
"I went up there [to Ashburn] right before the draft and had the best workout of anybody there," Hill said. "Even the reporters and coaches were saying that I was in better shape than actual players on the team. Numerous coaches higher up on the staff said, 'You're coming back.' All the way up until the time that they were going to bring me in, the person that called me told me, 'Hey, we're going to bring you in next week we just got to get our salary right.'
"Deion [Sanders] left and freed up his salary, and I was like, 'OK, here I come.' I had already done the work and did everything they asked me to do. My workouts there were to participate in a three-day, two-a-day camp. I performed and I outshined everybody. I actually thought I was going to be a Redskin. They called me specifically on my cell phone when they were going to bring me in, but when it came time to say, 'OK, we're going to sign this guy instead of another guy,' I had to read about it in the paper."

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