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Proving there's no I in team
By JOHN ROMANO and MARC TOPKIN
© St. Petersburg Times, published January 26, 2001
TAMPA -- Priest Holmes realized early that rookie Jamal Lewis was talented enough to take his job. So the Ravens running back reacted the only way he knew how. He helped Lewis along.
"Human nature says you have to look out for yourself. I know that," Holmes said. "But the way I was brought up was that you give back. Growing up in San Antonio, Texas, we never really had role models coming back to the neighborhood. So I always knew I would give back any way I could. Not just to my neighborhood, but to my teammates, too."
Holmes was a 1,000-yard rusher in 1998 and the starter coming out of training camp this season, but he gave way to Lewis, a first-round pick from Tennessee. Lewis set a team record with 1,364 yards rushing, finishing second among NFL rookies in 2000.
Holmes, 27, is mostly a situational back, replacing Lewis on third down. He rushed for more than 500 yards for the third straight season and caught a career-high 32 passes.
Although his role has been diminished, it has not kept Holmes from helping as much as possible. Along with fullbacks Sam Gash and Chuck Evans, Holmes met with Lewis every Thursday night during the season to study tapes and exchange ideas.
"You always want to take the next step whenever you can. You work on the field, but what are you going to do off the field to get better?" Holmes asked. "This was a way for us to bond outside of football. We'll talk about things that may not have anything to do with football, but we get a feel for each other's character and the way we relate to each other."
So why was Lewis always the host for these Thursday night get-togethers?
"He's got the big contract," Holmes laughed.
HEAD HUNTER: His job is to find the best players available, and Ozzie Newsome is uniquely qualified for the task. Not only was he a Hall of Fame tight end during his career with Cleveland, Newsome spent off-seasons working as a corporate talent scout.
"Calvin Hill and Paul Warfield were our directors of player programs (in Cleveland). They went into the corporate community to see if there was any corporations that would be willing to take athletes on for internships," Newsome said. "I was lucky enough to go to East Ohio Gas and from there I was an on-campus recruiter for management trainees. I would go to business schools to interview students and, if they were good enough, we'd invite them back."
When Newsome retired as a player after the 1990 season, owner Art Modell hired him as a special assignment scout. Within two years he had moved into the front office and took over as personnel director in 1994.
TOO MUCH TIME ON OUR HANDS: With hourlong interview sessions for the third straight day, it appeared some players were growing weary of the process. To amuse himself, linebacker Brad Jackson cut a square out of the front page of a newspaper and stuck his head in the hole under a headline that read: Success Story.
Seemingly as bored as the players, photographers rushed to the table to get shots of Jackson. Teammates Keith Washington and Cornell Brown then commandeered some microphones and conducted mock interviews with Jackson.
BUFFALO ON SPEED DIAL: Coaches have been hired in Detroit, Houston and New York in the past week, but vacancies remain in Cleveland and Buffalo. And, not so coincidentally, those are the teams with whom Ravens defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis most often has been linked.
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