- The Washington Times - Monday, June 7, 2004

From combined dispatches

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Jamal Lewis is certain he will be cleared of drug conspiracy charges, insisting his pending trial has not hindered his preparation with the Baltimore Ravens for the 2004 season.

The star running back is accused in Atlanta of helping set up a cocaine deal for a childhood friend during conversations with a government informant in July 2000. The trial could start as soon as August.

“I am innocent. … I’m very confident that my legal team will show I’m innocent,” he said yesterday, the first day of a mandatory minicamp.

Lewis and Angelo Jackson, who both grew up in the same area of Atlanta, are charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 5 kilograms of cocaine and using a cell phone in violation of federal law.

Lewis ran for 2,066 yards in 2003, the second-highest total in NFL history, to help the Ravens win the AFC North title. He believes the accusations have motivated him to come up with an appropriate encore.

“I haven’t missed a beat,” he said. “Mentally, I’ve been good. I think it’s made me madder, made me work harder, give me some drive when I’m working out.”

The Ravens went through something similar during the 2000 season, when linebacker Ray Lewis had to deal with the aftermath of a murder trial in Atlanta. Lewis, who pleaded guilty to obstruction of justices charges, rebounded to lead Baltimore to victory in the Super Bowl.

Giants’ Palmer impresses

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The No. 1 pick in the draft and the guy with two MVP trophies and a Super Bowl ring stood in the back when the New York Giants offense began its drills at minicamp.

Instead, “The Bachelor” led the way.

Jesse Palmer, who gained fame for his appearance on the reality TV show this summer, is currently the starting quarterback ahead of Eli Manning and Kurt Warner.

No one expects that to last, of course, not with Warner brought in last week to tutor the latest heir to the Manning quarterback dynasty. But long enough for Palmer to impress new coach Tom Coughlin.

“He has responded very well to the coaching and to what he has been asked to do,” Coughlin said. “He is the guy who has really done a very good job of doing exactly what he has been coached to do.”

Parcells apologizes

IRVING, Texas — Bill Parcells apologized for calling the surprise plays used in practice “Jap plays,” saying the remark was inappropriate.

The Dallas Cowboys coach was talking to reporters at the team’s minicamp about how his quarterbacks coach and defensive coordinator try to outdo each other when he made the comment, an apparent reference to Japan’s 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.

“You’ve got to keep an eye on those two, because they’re going to try to get the upper hand,” Parcells said about Sean Payton and Mike Zimmer. “Mike wants the defense to do well, and Sean, he’s going to have a few … no disrespect for the Orientals, but what we call Jap plays. OK, surprise things.”

Maddox’s contract extended

PITTSBURGH — Steelers quarterback Tommy Maddox agreed to terms of a one-year contract extension, signing with the team through 2007.

Maddox and Steelers president Art Rooney II didn’t discuss terms of the deal, but both agreed the contract will enable Maddox to remain with the team after first-round draft pick Ben Roethlisberger succeeds him.

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