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Baltimore Ravens' Ray Lewis helps set the standard at linebacker

TAMPA — When it comes to longevity at linebacker, the Ravens' Ray Lewis helps set the standard.

Lewis has created havoc on opposing offenses for 15 seasons, going to 11 Pro Bowls. And Lewis, 35, doesn't appear to be slowing. He leads Baltimore, which the Bucs face Sunday, with 91 tackles, and also has two sacks and two interceptions.

"Ray's a stud," Bucs coach Raheem Morris said. "Ray is arguably one of the greatest players to play our game. You can argue for whomever you want to argue for, in their era at middle linebacker — Mike Singletary, Jack Lambert. But the guys we've seen, Ray has got to be one of the best.

"We talk about (Bucs CB Ronde Barber) and those guys, they're in the same light. The guys that don't miss practice, don't miss games, they play the right way, the same temperament every year. … (They) continue just to defy the odds. … It's always great to see (Lewis) play. It's just not great to see him play against you."

Lewis, who has played 204 games, is the only active player with 2,000 career tackles (2,437).

"It's one thing to see a backup quarterback make it through (that) amount of time," C Jeff Faine said. "But a guy that plays as physical as he plays, he's always in the mix of things.

"And another thing that people don't account for is (the Ravens are) always making playoff runs. So there's additional games, and they're high-impact, high-level games that a lot of people don't even think about.

"When you say (Lewis has played) 15 seasons, I'd almost say 16 seasons because of the playoff games that they've played and making the Super Bowl (in the 2000 season)."

MEDICAL MATTERS: LB Quincy Black (ankle), who has missed the past two games, was back to full participation in Wednesday's practice and could return Sunday. But that doesn't mean LBs Adam Hayward and Dekoda Watson, who played well in Black's absence, will stay on the sideline. Morris said he'll find ways to keep them involved.

"Those guys, they showed that they can go out there and play," Morris said. "It gets me creative for my packages and doing things with those guys.

"As you guys know, I'll make something up to put people on the field, especially if you go out there and you're constructive and creative and take advantage of your opportunities."

ROSTER, ETC: The Bucs promoted DT Frank Okam from their practice squad to the active roster, where he takes the spot created by Ryan Sims' release Tuesday.

"(Okam) is … a big body that moves around well that we think can help us at some point," Morris said, "and we didn't want to lose him and decided to sign him."

Okam, 6 feet 5 and 350 pounds, was a 2008 fifth-round draft pick of the Texans after starring at the University of Texas. He played in 13 games for Houston before his release last month. He was signed by the Seahawks shortly thereafter but was released before appearing in any games.

Okam said his former Longhorns teammate DT Roy Miller has been helping him learn the Bucs' ropes and he's excited for the opportunity.

"(Miller) was my backup in college, and now I'm his backup," Okam said. "It's funny how life works."

Okam's spot on the practice squad is being filled by cornerback D.J. Johnson, a former Broncos prospect who spent seven games on the Giants' active roster this season.

Times staff writer Stephen F. Holder contributed to this report. Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@sptimes.com.

Baltimore Ravens' Ray Lewis helps set the standard at linebacker 11/24/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 24, 2010 10:08pm]

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