ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Albany native Dion Lewis spent some time talking to reporters after Tuesday night’s practice. The 30-year-old running back signed a one-year deal with the New York Giants this offseason after spending the previous two seasons with the Tennessee Titans. A full transcript of the interview can be read below.
RB Dion Lewis
Q: You guys worked on a little bit of close to full speed kickoff returns today it looked like. How hard is it to go into season without having any preseason games, because that’s probably something that really can be worked on in that area and not so much in practice?
A: I think we just need to keep working hard. Make the most of every day. We don’t have preseason games so every practice counts. Every day, we need to come out here with energy and try to get better every day. That’s the most important thing right now.
Q: Can you sort of take us through your return there? It looked like things opened up pretty well for you.
A: Guys did a great job blocking their man. As a returner, my job is to just hit it and make them right. Whenever I get a crease like that, I have to make the most of the opportunity. They did a great job blocking.
Q: You running backs in this league, you get close to the age of 30 and everyone expects you to lose a step and kind of get passed on by. Do you come to this training camp with a little chip on your shoulder to show you still have that burst, that you still can play in this league at a high level?
A: I always have a chip on my shoulder. Being a smaller guy, I always kind of motivate myself and have a chip on my shoulder to prove people wrong. I just come out every day, work, try to earn my teammates and my coaches’ respect every day by the way I work. I just come out, work hard every day and just try to get better every day and compete. Hopefully, everything works out.
Q: Has there ever been a moment the last couple years where you thought you lost a step, or have you always had that gear that you can go to?
A: I work hard, so I don’t look at myself as losing a step. I work really hard in the offseason and try to keep up with the young guys. I feel pretty good out there, but I have to keep coming to work every day and proving myself like everybody else.
Q: I was just wondering, without any preseason games and without minicamps and all the offseason training, do you have a feel for this team yet?
A: Right now, we’re a work in progress. Right now, every day we’re coming out, we’re working hard. The team is working extremely hard right now and buying into what Coach Judge is saying. I like the mentality of this team, I like the way everyone is working. We just need to keep stacking days like we have been and try to get better so when that Monday night game comes around, we’re ready.
Q: Is it almost like flying blind though without any feedback from preseason games?
A: I don’t think so. I think every practice counts. We’re taking the approach of every practice counts. We’re just trying to prove what we can do, try to learn from mistakes and keep stacking days, try not to make the same mistake you made the day before. Just trying to get better overall.
Q: Obviously when you came here you must’ve had some feel of what Saquon Barkley was as a player and as a person. Coming to a team as a running back with a guy like Saquon, I imagine has some unique things in it. Are some of those things unique when you have a guy who was the second pick in the draft. They obviously want you to carry the ball, catch the ball, protect the quarterback and also be good sounding board for Saquon. How is that whole thing going?
A: It’s going great. He’s a great player and he’s a great person. We clicked right off the bat. I like the way he works, he works really hard, he’s competitive and he’s a humble person. He wants to get better every day. I like the way he works, and we work really well together. We just have to keep pushing each other, keep learning from each other and try to do whatever we can to help this team win.
Q: What can a guy like you, who has been in the league so much longer than him, how can you help him? How can your eyes and your mind help him?
A: He’s such a great player so I kind of help him whenever he has questions. At the same time, I’m not a real ‘rah-rah’ guy. I’m more of a guy who just comes to work every day and works hard. He works really hard as well, so we mesh really well from that point. When he asks questions, he asks me and when I have questions, I ask him. We try to stay in each other’s ear. Try to use that to become better player’s ourselves.
Q: Does he have questions? Can you tell that he wants to hear what you have to say?
A: I think he definitely respects the fact that I’m a veteran and I have been around a long time. He’s asking questions on what he thinks he can do better and kind of staying in my ear and seeing how I stayed around long. He is trying to pick up some of the habits I have, the way I work and the way I just keep my head down and keep working every day.
Q: What can you learn from Saquon? I’m sure there’s stuff that you learn from all your teammates. In particular, Saquon, what can he teach you?
A: He can teach me a lot. There is nothing he really can’t do. The way he moves, he’s powerful, he’s explosive, he’s quick. Picking his brain and how he sees certain run reads and just trying to incorporate that into my game. Obviously, I’m not the player he is but picking his brain and seeing what he sees on certain plays and he does the same with me. Just staying in each other’s ear, pushing each other, competing. It’s been great.
Q: You have been in several running back rooms in your career. How would you characterize the personality of this particular group?
A: We have a great group. Everybody is friendly, everybody is hungry, everybody is competing. At the same time, we all understand we’re teammates. We’re trying to make each other better, at the same time, competing. Building that camaraderie in the group. We know it’s going to take all of us to help the team win during the season. Definitely like what we have.
Q: You have been praised throughout your career for your work in pass protection. When in your career did it first become a priority? Is there an art form to being good in pass protection? Why do you excel in that?
A: I just try to be a complete player. Obviously, I’m limited in some things I can do. I just try to work hard at everything and try to do what I can do best. Pass protection is something that took me a while to learn. The longer you do it, the more reps you get at it, the better you become. I think I am extremely confident in that. Just try to use my technique and use my leverage and things like that to overcome some of the other obstacles I have. I just look at it as a two and half to three second fight. Try not to get beat inside, that’s the way I look at it and that’s my mentality.
Q: How do you practice something like that? Is it just reps in games or can you do something off the field on the practice field that helps with that?
A: Just working my hands, drills you do in individual. Over the years, I have done a lot of different pass protection drills. I just incorporate everything that I’ve learned from all the coaches I’ve had and just try to put them all together and bring that dog out. It’s me versus him and I don’t want to get embarrassed.