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Lewis receives $19 million bonus

Posted: Friday, August 02, 2002

Ray Lewis agreed to a five-year contract extension Thursday that includes a $19 million signing bonus and keeps the All-Pro linebacker with the Ravens through 2008.

Lewis' new seven-year contract is worth approximately $50 million. Lewis had two years left on a deal that was to pay him $4.75 million each year.

Lewis led the NFL with 196 tackles last year and was selected to the Pro Bowl for a fifth straight time. He was a key figure in the Ravens' drive to the Super Bowl in 2000, and clearly is the most important element in the team's effort to regroup from a sweeping salary-cap purge during the offseason.

''I truly believe that they truly respect what I did, and what I am still able to do for this organization,'' Lewis said. ''This is where I started my foundation, and this is where I wanted to end it. Now I can.''

Said Ravens' coach Brian Billick: ''When Ray goes, I'll go. If that's the way it works out, it will be fine with me.''

Since coming to Baltimore as the 26th overall pick in the 1996 NFL draft, Lewis has been the Ravens' leading tackler in each of his six seasons. He led the league in tackles in 1997, '99 and last year, when he also registered a career-high tying three interceptions and 3 1/2 sacks.

With a big assist from Lewis, the Ravens made the playoffs for a second straight year in 2001. Now the 6-foot-1, 245-pounder finds himself in the middle of a massive rebuilding project.

49ers-Redskins

The 49ers arrived for the American Bowl in Osaka, Japan, and announced that they want to keep a Japanese player added to the roster just for the game.

Linebacker Masafumi Kawaguchi impressed Steve Mariucci so much that the San Francisco coach asked the NFL for a special roster exemption so Kawaguchi can return to training camp after the game against the Washington Redskins on Sunday (Saturday night EDT).

The Redskins, meanwhile, landed in Japan with one fewer player than expected.

Reserve defensive end Otis Leverette, expected to be a regular part for the defensive line rotation this season, was diagnosed with a ligament injury that will sideline him about six weeks.

Kawaguchi joined the 49ers' camp in Stockton, Calif., last week, signing the usual 10-day contract as part of the NFL's traditional gesture of giving local American Bowl fans a special rooting interest. The Redskins were assigned receiver Akihito Amaya.

A six-year veteran of NFL Europe, he came to camp hoping his teammates would see him as something more than an Osaka tour guide.

''I told the guys that if I take care of them in Japan, they've got to take care of me with a job,'' Kawaguchi said.

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Colts

Dwight Freeney knows how to sack quarterbacks. He proved that at Syracuse.

These days, Indianapolis' top draft pick is back in the classroom -- learning the art of NFL pass rushing.

After three offseason minicamps and four days of training camp, Freeney has discovered what works in college won't always work in the pros.

''It is different because these guys are so big and strong,'' he said. ''They're also wiser because they have a lot of experience.''

Defensive end Chad Bratzke and left tackle Tarik Glenn are showing Freeney the finer points of surviving in the NFL.

''I see athleticism, relentless pursuit to the ball and an opportunity to put pressure on an offensive tackle,'' defensive coordinator Ron Meeks said. ''I see him getting better and better as he goes along.''



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