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Jamal Lewis In 2009: Still Hungry For More Or Running Out Of Gas?

Written by Daniel Wolf
Article originally posted on Dawg Scooper: An Unofficial Cleveland Browns News Source

After two years on the Browns, fans have either accepted Jamal Lewis into their hearts or they are still on the fence about the guy for a few different reasons.

Those reasons are quite obvious.

1) Lewis came from the extremely hated Baltimore Ravens franchise.

2) Lewis was excellent during his first year with the Browns, in 2007, but in 2008 struggled and many fans began to lose faith in his abilities.

First, a moment to step back into time to revisit one of the hated years of Lewis playing for the Ravens back in 2003. This was the year that Lewis ran the ball 55 times for 500 yards and four touchdowns in two games against the Browns.

Many Browns fans still have this memory burned into their brain and it may never be forgotten.

But that when then, and now Lewis is starting his third season in the brown and orange.

In 2007, when Lewis was released by the Ravens, he signed a one-year contract with the Browns, but many football analysts said that Lewis was "out of gas" and "he had already peaked as a NFL running back."

Those comments fueled the fire within Lewis and he trained harder than he has ever trained before (which is crazy because his workout routines are notoriously grueling).

Former Browns General Manger Phil Savage even said, "a hungry Jamal Lewis is a good Jamal Lewis."

Even though Lewis had over 200 yards rushing in the second game of the 2007 season against the Cincinnati Bengals, he still started the season off slow until the middle of November, when he finally began running over opposing defenses.

The last seven games of the year Lewis ran for 789 yards and averaged 4.7 yards per carry which helped give Lewis a new three-year contract with the Browns.

Many said that since Lewis received a new contract, he would no longer be as hungry to prove himself as he was in 2007 because he got a longer contract.

In 2008 Lewis showed he was still hungry, but a few problems occurred for him and the the line in front of him. Granted he ran for over 1,000 yards (barely), Lewis played most of the season with an ankle injury and the offensive line was not as good as the year prior due to injuries.

Even though fans saw that Lewis was not running with as much power, he was more tip-toeing while running the ball, but he was still running with desire and passion through his pain and injury.

There was one moment in 2008 where Lewis, a locker room leader and a passionate player, spoke his mind after a controversial loss to the Denver Broncos, where it looked like some of the Browns players 'gave up' playing the game.

Lewis blew up at his teammates by telling the media, "this is the NFL, you can't call it quits until the game is over."

"Some people need to check their egos at the door and find some heart to come out here and play hard. This is a man's game. The way we went out there and played two weeks in a row, finishing the same kind of way, it's not there. I think there are some men around here that need to check their selves, straight up."

Many were angered with Lewis' comments, but at this point in the 2008 season someone needed to say something regarding the teams play (or lack of play).

After the 2008 season, Lewis did the right thing to make his body 100 percent healthy and decided to get surgery on his ankle to clean it out.

So far in the 2009 offseason, Lewis has yet to participate in any team drills or practices, due to his recovery, but he has been working very hard with team trainers to help build back his running strength.

Reported rumors out of the Browns Training Facility say that Lewis will be ready for training camp in August, but without working with the team during mini-camps, will Lewis really be ready to step back into the starting role?

Backup Jerome Harrison has been taking a lot of snaps with the first team offense and rookie James Davis has been seeing a lot of snaps too.

Browns coach Eric Mangini has stated that he loves the style of running Lewis brings to the game of football and with that being said it pretty much secures Lewis' position as the starting running back of the Browns, unless Lewis struggles.

Lewis may not show the power running skills of the past right away in August, but his desire to play football and his dedication to keeping his body conditioned all year long will keep him in top form even though he is turning 30 before the 2009 season begins.

Supposedly, once a NFL running back hits 30, it is only downhill from there, but Lewis may be the exception to that rule.

Since his performance in 2008 was mediocre, look for a hungry Lewis once again in 2009, and with a bigger and stronger offensive line in place, Lewis should be able to find bigger holes to pound his way through defenses.

Also, with a better rotation of backups, Harrison and Davis, look for a fresh Lewis at the end of games to continue pounding already fatigued defenses.

Is Lewis running out of gas?

Not in his mind, but his performance will need to prove that to the masses.

Is Lewis still hungry for more?

Lewis seems like that rare breed of player who will always be hungry for more until the day he can't run a football anymore.

1 comment:

  1. I have no complaints about Jamal. The guy is no spring chicken but he's got heart and integrity. And he has more than enough gas left in the tank, when healthy, to compete at the top level. He just needs some help from a terribly imbalanced O-line last season and an absent Harrison.