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Thread: Player Profile: Thaddeus Lewis
Player Profile: Thaddeus Lewis
Duke football coach David Cutcliffe is widely regarded as one of the finest quarterback tutors in the country. He’s the man who once provided guidance to future Hall of Fame signal caller Peyton Manning.
Cutcliffe passed those same lessons on to his latest pupil, Rams rookie Thaddeus Lewis. In his four-year career with the Blue Devils, Lewis went on to set or tie every major passing record in school history.
And for all of his success, Lewis was trained in a pro style offense more along the lines of the NFL than the spread offenses that run rampant in college football these days.
In other words, when Lewis signed with the Rams as an undrafted free agent on April 26, he was about as NFL ready as a quarterback can be.
“It helped me a whole lot,” Lewis said. “I wasn’t fazed at all coming out to these practices because he makes his practices up tempo and fast. The transition was great so that part wasn’t hard at all. It’s just learning the language. The language is different. You have to forget everything you learned in college. Pretty much, the route concepts and running plays are the same. The defenses never change. They add a few things to it but it’s pretty much the same.”
Make no mistake, for as much preparation as Lewis was able to have for his move to the game’s highest level, there’s only so much you can do. That’s why Lewis came to St. Louis with his eyes and ears wide open and his head on a swivel.
“It’s demanding more of you on this level than in college,” Lewis said. “As a quarterback, there are a lot of things you need to know as a rookie that you have to learn on the fly. You have to learn pretty quick in college but the transition has been pretty smooth. The coaches have done a great job with us but putting time in off the field also helps.”
Considering his pedigree and his performance in college, it might come as a surprise that Lewis went undrafted last April.
While Duke is known for its prowess on the basketball court, Cutcliffe has restored some respectability to the program with the help of Lewis as the cornerstone quarterback.
From the moment he arrived in Durham as a freshman out of Hialeah Miami Lakes High in Florida, Lewis made his presence felt. He started the final 11 weeks of his true freshman season.
By the time his four years were complete, Lewis had left a lasting impression on Duke football fans.
All told, Lewis established or matched 54 schools records including career completions (877), passing yards (10,065) and passing touchdowns (67) while playing in 47 games. A two-time second team All-ACC selection, Lewis was a finalist for the Davey O’Brien Award as a senior when he threw for 3,330 yards and 20 touchdowns. His 10,065 passing yards rank as the second-highest career total in ACC history.
With numbers like those and the training Lewis had under Cutcliffe, one would assume he’d be a shoo in for a spot somewhere in the NFL Draft. And though teams liked Lewis’ production, intelligence and passion for the game, there was one thing holding him back, something he has no control over: his height.
Lewis was listed at 6’1 and 215 pounds but probably stands just a notch below that. Ultimately, that kept Lewis from landing anywhere during the draft.
“I heard it a lot,” Lewis said. “That’s the biggest thing people knocking on my height. Can he throw the ball? Will it get batted down a lot? Things like that. Do you want to take a chance on a guy that is not tall enough? Those are the things I heard about me for not getting drafted. At the end of the day, you’re a quarterback no matter how tall you are. If you are a quarterback, you are a quarterback. If you can go out on the field at any height and produce then I am pretty sure if you do it in college, you can do it on the next level, too.”
Like most quarterbacks saddled with the height knock, Lewis has taken solace in some of the shorter quarterbacks making waves in the NFL, not least of which is defending Super Bowl champion Drew Brees.
In watching Brees, Lewis has taken some valuable lessons that he applies to his every day approach to the game.
“It makes you work harder,” Lewis said. “That one thing you don’t have is height but you can’t control that. You can’t worry about the things you can’t control. You can control the things you can control and that’s studying the playbook, going out here making plays on the field, being in command of the huddle and earning the respect of your teammates, things like that. That all makes the quarterback position.”
For the Rams, Lewis is well aware of the situation he is walking into. After he went undrafted, he had opportunities with other teams around the league – namely teams that didn’t use the No. 1 overall pick on a signal caller.
Still, when Lewis evaluated his options for potential NFL jobs, he liked the relative youthful nature of the Rams’ roster and felt like he could fit in right away.
Since he arrived, Lewis has spent about two hours every day in his playbook in addition to the regular work he was doing in OTAs and minicamps.
When the Rams ended their offseason program, Lewis returned to Miami to work with some former coaches and has been spending his time working on footwork and conditioning as well as staying up on his playbook.
As training camp is set to open at the end of the month, Lewis is preparing for what could be an intriguing battle for a roster spot with second-year quarterback Keith Null.
And though his resume might indicate that his road to NFL should come a little easier, the humble rookie from Duke is approaching every day grateful for the opportunity afforded him in St. Louis.
“It’s been fun,” Lewis said. “I’ve had the opportunity to live my dream and do what I love every day. I come in and compete and show everybody what I’ve got…I look at it like this. Some people have to take different routes to get to where you are going. My situation is a little different; I had to take another route. You can’t let that get you down. The Rams gave me an opportunity and you have to be thankful for the opportunity that’s been presented before you.”
Re: Player Profile: Thaddeus Lewis
Thaddeus Lewis! Our quarterback of the future! Go Lewis!
Oh wait, we still have Bradford.
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