- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 12, 2004

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Here comes the J-Train, and there go the Cleveland Browns in futile pursuit.

It’s difficult to find another player in the NFL who has thoroughly dominated one team like Baltimore Ravens running back Jamal Lewis has the Browns; nearly one-fourth of Lewis’ 4,757 career rushing yards have come at their expense. In six games against Cleveland, he has averaged 7.3 yards a carry and rumbled for 1,043 yards and six touchdowns.

On Wednesday, the Browns defense was talking big. Cleveland defensive end Kenard Lang boasted, “Lewis ain’t going to break the first line of defense,” and safety Earl Little followed Lang’s bold prediction with “[Lewis] is just another running back.” Today the Browns get an opportunity to back up their words when the Ravens roll into Cleveland Browns Stadium in the season opener for both teams.

In two games against the Browns last season, Lewis rushed for an even 500 yards. In Week 2, Lewis set the NFL’s single-game rushing record with 295 yards on 30 carries.

While the Browns seem unimpressed with the damage Lewis inflicted on them last year, the Ravens’ star back is taking their boasts in stride.

“It’s a new season now,” Lewis said. “They made adjustments and everything. Since it’s the first game of the year, I think they’ve probably been preparing for this all offseason. I don’t go out there and think that Cleveland’s a slouch or we’re just going to go out there and dominate them or anything. We’ve just got to go out and play sound football and not make any mistakes.”

The Ravens’ running game may not be at peak efficiency if seven-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jonathan Ogden does not play because of a sprained knee sustained in the final preseason game. The 6-foot-9, 345-pound Ogden said his status will be a game-time decision. If Ogden doesn’t play, Ethan Brooks will start at left tackle.

“If I feel that I’ll be able to do something and be able to contribute, I’ll play,” Ogden said.

This game is also a homecoming of sorts for Ravens wide receiver Kevin Johnson, who spent five seasons in Cleveland and who had three of the six best receiving seasons in Browns history. This will be Johnson’s first trip back to Cleveland after getting released last year after nine games. The Browns cited attitude problems as the main reason.

“Everybody knows what happened and the way I was portrayed, so there’s no sense in me beating a dead horse,” Johnson said during a conference call with Cleveland area media. “For me to be who I am speaks volumes. Guys on that team know what type of guy I am and you guys know, so there’s no sense in clearing my name.”

The Browns, who went 5-11 last season, have some playmakers on offense. They signed former San Francisco 49ers Pro Bowl quarterback Jeff Garcia in the offseason, drafted Miami All-American tight end Kellen Winslow and have vertical threats on the outside in wide receivers Quincy Morgan and Andre Davis.

It really doesn’t matter if Browns running back Lee Suggs (neck stinger) plays or not, because no Cleveland running back has gained 100 yards in 10 games against the Ravens’ suffocating defense.

As for possibly matching up against fellow Hurricane alumnus Winslow, Ravens All-Pro middle linebacker Ray Lewis put it this way: “Anyone who puts on a different color uniform is looking to get hit.”

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