And if it’s not quite fair to say a 29-year-old feels like a kid again, when it comes to the Jaguars’ eight-year veteran tight end . . .
Well, he just feels awfully good.
“I feel replenished, rejuvenated – I’m in a position where it’s a clean slate,” Lewis said shortly after the Jaguars’ fifth organized team activities practice was cut short by rain Tuesday afternoon.
Why the good feeling? Why the fresh outlook?
Let him count the ways:
First, he loves the Jaguars’ new offense.
Second, he loves having rookie right tackle
Next . . . well, Lewis could go on and on – and he did go on for a while Tuesday – but mainly he likes most everything about what’s going on around the Jaguars this offseason.
That’s particularly true of a coaching staff that he said is setting a positive tone for an organization that needed such a change. Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley earlier this offseason cited Lewis as a veteran who has accepted a leadership role on a young team undergoing significant change.
Lewis on Tuesday spoke of Bradley and the rest of the coaching staff as a capable group for whom it is easy to lead.
“We have good coaches in here who understand how our minds work, psychologically, how to get us to where we can take advantage of who we are, and what kind of players we really are,” Lewis said. “I’m looking forward to that.
“We have coaches who actually believe in what you can do and who put you in the best position to best utilize you to help the team.”
Lewis said as there’s more to his optimism about the coming season than just a new staff.
He said he likes a lot about the new offense installed by Offensive Coordinator Jedd Fisch, particularly its versatility and that it emphasizes multiple weapons. And he also likes that the Jaguars not only will have
Each player is expected to be able to handle ends one-on-one.
That’s good for the Jaguars’ quarterbacks – and it’s not bad for Lewis, either.
“My last couple of years, because of injuries and stuff like that, I was playing tackle, too,” Lewis said. “Nobody really understands unless you’re doing it, but you can’t block the entire game and then here comes the ball 90 miles an hour and you’re not in a groove and you’re not involved – or if you don’t think you’re going to be involved. (When that’s the case), you’re mindset is just to block.
“That’s the responsibility I felt I had to take for the last year and a half. I’m not selfish. I don’t argue about it. I just do it, but at the same time, it feels good to be able to get in a groove.”
Lewis said he made a point not to complain about the situation.
“What do I gain from that?” he said. “My teammates aren’t going to respect me. The crowd that I’m playing in front of isn’t going to respect me. I’m not going to go out there crying. I’m still playing the game I love to play.”
“Now, I’m just ready to grasp all of it, do this thing and take the bull by the horns,” he said.
And while Lewis very much wants to be known as an all-around tight end, he said it doesn’t bother him to be known as one of the NFL’s better blockers at the position.
“In this league, you’re the best of the best, so if someone’s going to recognize you as being the best at something in this league, it’s a privilege,” he said. “Now, it’s time to really get it on.”
Lewis, talking in a raucous, post-practice Jaguars locker room Tuesday, very much looked the part of a player replenished, one rejuvenated. At 29, Lewis isn’t a kid in NFL terms, but for an eight-year veteran, he said feels relatively young.
“This is how I felt in 2010, right before I went to the Pro Bowl,” he said. “Before that season, this is how I felt. I’m more healthy now than I was before 2010.”
What that will mean on the field for Lewis remains to be seen, but he likes a lot about a lot right now. He has a clean slate, and doesn’t see that changing anytime soon.