Taking his position
Lewis has great respect for Taylor
OWINGS MILLS, Md. - In his 14 seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, linebacker Ray Lewis has come to classify opponents in two categories: “There’s some people you look forward to playing, and then there are some people you don’t look forward to playing,’’ he said this week.
With the Ravens preparing to face the Patriots in an AFC wild-card matchup tomorrow at Gillette Stadium, Lewis was asked how he classified running back Fred Taylor.
“Fred is one of those you don’t really look forward to playing, because he’s a total back, to me,’’ he said.
Taylor and Lewis, though rivals on the field, have a mutual admiration and respect each other off the field.
“Outside of being a good friend of mine,’’ Lewis said, “but barring injury, to me, he’s one of the greatest talents we’ve ever seen touch a football. You kind of put him in that same category - I don’t want to go too far - but he’s like a Bo Jackson, going through the injury and playing year in and year out.’’
Although they never met in college when Taylor was at Florida and Lewis at Miami, Taylor made quite an impression in his first head-to-head matchup against Lewis in the NFL, rushing 23 times for 128 yards and a touchdown to go along with nine receptions for 85 yards to lead the Jaguars to a 24-10 victory over the Ravens in 1998.
“What Fred can do with a football in his hand, it’s special,’’ Lewis said.
Asked if Taylor shared the same mentality, Lewis said, “I think so, because he’s always done that. He’s done that since his Gator days, since he’s been in Jacksonville. He’s always been that type of vocal leader who really sets an example.’’
“The rook can go straight or either way, right?’’ he said. “What’s the horse do? He goes up three and over one. Is that what happens? The bishop goes diagonally, right? I’m going to have to remember that for this game.
“That’s part of the fun of football,’’ he said, “but that’s going to have a lot less to do with it than how guys play or guys making plays. It’s going to come down to the players in this one.
“Coach Belichick is a great coach, and I’ve got a lot of respect for him and what they’ve accomplished . . . but if we were to line up against each other, I don’t think it’d be very interesting to watch. I don’t think it’d be much of a matchup.’’