ARLINGTON, Texas — Dion Lewis has been lurking in the NFL for five seasons. The New England Patriots were just the only team with the brains to give him a chance.
Lewis was like a mythical creature after being selected in the fifth round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. Hype began to build each time he caught on with a new team, mostly based off his college production, but something always went wrong. He was playing behind LeSean McCoy with the Eagles, then he broke his leg shortly after being traded to the Cleveland Browns. The Browns gave up on him the next offseason, then the Indianapolis Colts cut him after just a week at the beginning of last season. Stupid Colts. Now Dion is coming for his revenge in a week.
Lewis already has 453 total yards in what is far and away the best season of his career. He came into the year with just 192 total yards in two seasons with the Eagles. He then sat out the 2013 season with the broken leg and was out of football in 2014.
Lewis said the only difference this season is that he’s on the field and receiving reps.
“I’m playing,” Lewis said. “That’s the biggest difference to me. The coaches are giving me a chance, they trust me and I’m playing. Whenever somebody gives you a chance to play, you’ve got to make plays. That’s the name of the business. You’ve got to make plays when you’re out there, and that’s what I tried to do.”
Lewis doesn’t even feel like he’s a better player this year. He’s just wiser than he was the last time he stepped on a football field. A year off will do that.
“I would say I’m a lot more mature than I was,” Lewis said. “I’m a lot more mature. I know the game way better than I did coming in, learning how to be a pro, taking care of my body, things like that, things I didn’t do at the beginning of my career. Just trying to take care of my body and being a student of the game. That’s really what I feel like I’m a lot better at. Just being more serious and being more mature.”
Lewis, who’s already exceeded cult-hero status in New England through four short games with the Patriots, churned out another 89 yards from scrimmage in his fourth consecutive start Sunday in the 30-6 Week 5 win over the Dallas Cowboys. He ran the ball six times for 34 yards and caught eight passes for 64 yards with a highlight reel touchdown.
Here, we’ll let Lewis explain the score for you.
“I just ran to the flat,” Lewis said. “It seemed like (the ball) was behind me, so I had to adjust to it. I turned around, somebody was in front of me I think — I don’t really remember, but I think somebody was in front of me. Then somebody came from the side. I ducked under, and I don’t really remember what happened after that.”
We’ll cut Lewis some slack. It was a tough play to describe.
Lewis made a one-handed grab, made four defenders miss and finished with a dive into the end zone. These types of plays are becoming ordinary for the undersized running back, who’s even quicker than the super-agile Julian Edelman. The wide receiver even admitted it.
“Dion’s pretty quick, man,” Edelman said. “That dude’s a lightning bolt. He’s like a jitter bug. But he’s big. He’s like 195 pounds, so it’s not like he’s that little.”
The Patriots wisely locked up Lewis with a two-year contract extension this week that keeps in him New England through 2017. There were fears the Patriots wouldn’t find a replacement for Shane Vereen this offseason. Lewis has quelled those fears and given the Patriots an even more dangerous weapon.
Thumbnail photo via Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Oct 11, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; New England Patriots running back Dion lewis (33) celebrates his third quarter touchdown with guard Tre' Jackson (63) against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports