FOXBORO, Mass. — Dion Lewis became a bit of a forgotten man this offseason after the New England Patriots signed fellow running backs Mike Gillislee and Rex Burkhead and locked up James White to a contract extension.
It was even discussed that the Patriots could potentially trade Lewis during the 2017 NFL Draft since they suddenly had so much depth at running back. But Lewis stuck around and, unlike last offseason, he’s fully healthy.
“I think Dion’s building on his last however many weeks of the regular season it was last year — six or seven or whatever it was — and the playoffs, so he’s had a good offseason,” coach Bill Belichick said Thursday before the Patriots’ final day of minicamp. “He’s built on that. I mean, he really worked hard to get back for the end of last year, and then this year, he’s been able to improve on that. Again, anxious to see him in training camp, but he’s done a good job out here.”
There isn’t much to take away from a running back’s performance in organized team activities or minicamp because there’s no pads and no contact. They can run free after catching a pass or taking a handoff. Training camp is a much better gauge of a running back’s talents, which explains why Belichick is “anxious” to see his running back return to real practice.
“I’m looking forward to training camp,” Lewis said Thursday. “Training camp is when it’s real. That’s when you’re really being evaluated, that’s when the competition really ramps up and begins. I’m just eager to get out there and go out there and show people what I can do.”
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images