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It's so far, so good as Lewis sets sights on staying healthy

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  • It's so far, so good as Lewis sets sights on staying healthy

    By Bill Coats
    Of the Post-Dispatch

    MACOMB, Ill. - As Rams training camp grinds along, the injury list fluctuates, sometimes brimming with names, other days identifying only a few relegated to the sideline. Often just as important is the players who haven't shown up among the wounded.

    Defensive tackle Damione Lewis is in that category, which ranks as a significant development. Lewis has participated in every practice, from start to finish, as he attempts to nail down the starting spot that Brian Young held before signing with New Orleans in the offseason as a free agent.

    A broken foot in 2001 and an ankle sprain last year cost Lewis 11 games during his three-year career and perhaps are the primary reasons he hasn't achieved the potential the Rams saw when they drafted him in the first round (12th overall) in '01.

    Living up to such lofty expectations, though, isn't paramount in Lewis' mind. "That doesn't even bother me," he said. "Every time I'm on the field, I've got something to prove. It's just the competitive part of it." Mainly, he just wants to stay on the field.

    "That's been the biggest thing since I've been here," said Lewis, 26. "I just want to be healthy, and I tried to work in the offseason to do what I need to do to stay healthy for the whole year. That'd be a big deal for me."

    And for the Rams. Without Young and defensive end Grant Wistrom, who went to Seattle as a free agent, two holes in the front four need to be plugged. So far, Bryce Fisher is manning Wistrom's right-end spot. And Lewis is holding down things inside, alongside Ryan Pickett. Pro Bowl defensive end Leonard Little handles the left end.

    Coach Mike Martz said the 6-foot-2, 301-pound Lewis has "had a real good camp. He had a good practice (last Saturday) against the Bears, good pass rush. That inside pass rush is so hard to find, and he looks like he's got some of that going for him."

    Tinoisamoa notices a difference this year

    For Pisa Tinoisamoa, the road from the University of Hawaii to the NFL All-Rookie team traveled through Macomb, where a year ago he was one of training camp's most pleasant surprises. Tinoisamoa, the Rams' second-round draft pick in 2003, quickly proved that he deserved a spot in the lineup at outside linebacker.

    It didn't stop there. Tinoisamoa, 6-0 and 235 pounds, started every game. He collected 121 tackles, making him the first Rams rookie to lead the team in that category. At camp this year, he said he feels like a grizzled veteran.

    "I'm just having a lot more fun because I know what I'm doing," he said. "Last year, it seemed like everything came at once, so it was kind of hard. But now it's moving a lot slower, I'm picking up things a lot faster, and that makes it easier. It just makes me feel more secure. I don't have to worry when I'm on the sideline, 'What do I have to do? Where do I line up?' ..."


    Martz said the Rams had received reports on the recent injury evaluations that tackle Kyle Turley (back) and center Dave Wohlabaugh (center) have had. Martz indicated that he wanted to talk to both players before commenting publicly on the contents of the reports. ... Martz turned down what he termed "serious lobbying" by guard Adam Timmerman and defensive end Tyoka Jackson to allow the veterans to leave Macomb for St. Louis on Wednesday night.

  • #2
    Re: It's so far, so good as Lewis sets sights on staying healthy

    With all the negative stuff clouding the offense, the defense is seemingly quiet this offseason. Which is good news for us as fans. The defense is going to either win it or lose it for us, and if this unit can stay healthy look out.


    • #3
      Re: It's so far, so good as Lewis sets sights on staying healthy

      TX, I was originally worried about our D-line. You are right, it has been relatively quiet on the D side of the ball; and that usually is good. Now, with injuries & holdouts, I am more concerned about the O-Line. I hope your D is up to the task and quietly takes charge of this team while the O develops a line. Damn how I have waited a long time for the season to return. Pre-season or not, tonight the fun begins again. Go Rams...



      • #4
        Re: It's so far, so good as Lewis sets sights on staying healthy

        Coach Mike Martz said the 6-foot-2, 301-pound Lewis has "had a real good camp.
        I knew he looked bigger! When I was at camp, Lewis, Pickett & Kennedy happened to be side-by-side-by-side signing autographs. I knew Pickett & Kennedy were in the 320s but Lewis was still listed at 280. But to look at them they all looked very similar, there certainly wasn't a 40 pound difference, a 15 pound difference maybe. But while Grease & Kennedy looked a little chubby, Lewis looked muscular. He must have seriously hit the weight room. I've never been a fan of D-Lew, but I am looking forward to eating every bad word I've said about him.
        Originally posted by TxRamsfan
        The defense is going to either win it or lose it for us, and if this unit can stay healthy look out.
        Tx, these guys are going to make some serious noise this year (as long as we stop the run). If our line can plug the interior, the back 7 are going to have a field day! Man, crank it up. Let's get this season rolling! :ramlogo: :helmet: :ramlogo:
        The more things change, the more they stay the same.


        Related Topics


        • Tony Soprano
          Damione Lewis #92
          by Tony Soprano
          What's up with #92 Lewis?

          I've seen quotes from Kollar, Marmie, and Martz referring to the DT's and they haven't mentioned his name at all.

          The Rams just picked up a DEF Tackle,
          John Parrella, and Martz says:

          In St. Louis, he could help the Rams' defensive line rotation behind starters Ryan Pickett and Jimmy Kennedy.

          "We were a guy short in the defensive line, numbers-wise," Martz said.

          I haven't seen or heard a coach mention Lewis, and I always read Kollar's quotes.
          I know they're down on him because of his Run-DEFense.

          Has anyone heard if he's been moved to DEF END? Or may we see him get cut?
          -08-09-2005, 09:26 PM
        • sosa39rams
          Player Profile: Thaddeus Lewis
          by sosa39rams
          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...
          -07-17-2010, 09:20 AM
        • RamsSB99
          Lewis in position to make Jenkins irrelevant
          by RamsSB99
          By Steve Reed
          June 8, 2007 - 2:51PM

          CHARLOTTE — With Kris Jenkins’ future with the Carolina Panthers up in the air, last year’s top backup defensive tackle, Damione Lewis, is practicing like a guy who’s ready to start in 2007.

          And he’s doing so feeling better than he has in years.

          Lewis is coming off offseason shoulder surgery that has left him feeling like a new man.

          It’s an injury that dates back to his third year in the league (2003) and one that he’s addressed in the past through rehab. However, after banging it in a Week 5 game against Cleveland, Lewis ultimately decided it was time to have surgery.

          “It seemed like every week it was just consistently getting worse,” Lewis said.

          Lewis stuck it out, playing the full 16 games but his production tailed off as the season progressed. In his first 10 games he had 23 tackles and 4.5 sacks; in the last six he had seven tackles and no sacks.

          Lewis said it was a decent season, but added: “It could have been a lot better.”

          But some of that can be attributed to the shoulder problems.

          Shortly after the season he had bone spurs removed.

          “I spent a lot of time in the training room just getting it to where I was able to go out and perform on Sunday,” Lewis said. “Then it started all over again on Monday with the training room, building it back up for the next game. I’ve got all that behind me, so I’m excited about that. Now I’ve got a full range of motion, something I didn’t have last year. It feels pretty good. It’s feeling a lot better, still working through some kinks with it, but it feels a hell of lot better now than it did last year at this time.”

          That’s a good thing.

          “D-Lew,” as his teammates call him, needs to stay healthy and turn in a big season.

          A former first-round draft pick in 2001 by the St. Louis — selected one spot behind college teammate Dan Morgan — Lewis spent five relatively disappointing seasons with the Rams before he was allowed to hit the free agent market. He signed a two-year, $4 million deal with the Panthers in 2006 hoping that by moving to a defensive-minded team it might revitalize his career.

          With his contract up at the end of this season, Lewis could cash in next spring if he produces on the field.

          His preference is to stay in Carolina, but much of that will depend on how Jenkins’ situation plays out.

          Jenkins, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, has missed the first two weeks of voluntary minicamp and his agent Tony Paige has indicated his client would like a new contract. It’s quite possible Jenkins could skip training camp if he doesn’t get a new deal, opening the door for Lewis to start.

          “I’m in more of a relaxed defensive atmosphere and they are more tuned to getting you in different things and getting the line moving,...
          -06-09-2007, 09:26 AM
        • RamDez
          Fisher, Lewis Impact Line
          by RamDez
          Fisher, Lewis Impact Line
          Wednesday, September 15, 2004

          By Nick Wagoner
          Staff Writer

          While the Rams’ offensive line was busy dominating Arizona’s front four, St. Louis’ defensive line was taking care of business as well.

          The group helped hold the Cardinals to 260 yards and came up with big plays repeatedly to help St. Louis earn a 17-10 win Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome. The win got the Rams’ season off on the right foot, making them 1-0 for the first time since 2001.

          Most of the defensive questions entering training camp revolved around the losses the Rams suffered on their front line. Defensive end Grant Wistrom departed for a big-money contract in Seattle and tackle Brian Young headed for New Orleans, where he got “Big Easy” money.

          Instead of spending major dollars for replacements like their NFC brethren, the Rams stayed home and promoted the backups. A pair of defensive ends, who traveled similar paths to the team, improved in training camp and made the team. Joining them was an unheralded third-round choice who proved to be one of the camp’s shining stars.

          Bryce Fisher entered camp at the top of the depth chart in Wistrom’s former position, opposite sackmaster Leonard Little. Facing fierce competition from former first-rounder Erik Flowers and impressive rookie Anthony Hargrove, Fisher fought off the challenge and earned the job. After a 2003 campaign in which he had 47 tackles, two sacks and two forced fumbles, Fisher didn’t disappoint against Arizona.

          He finished with 10 tackles, a quarterback pressure, a deflected pass and a sack in the first quarter that resulted in a 16-yard loss.

          Rams’ coach Mike Martz said it doesn’t matter who you ask, that is the kind of performance you want from that position.

          “By anybody’s standards for a defensive end that’s a terrific afternoon,” Martz said.

          Damione Lewis, Young’s replacement at tackle, faired just as well as Fisher in the season opener. Lewis was solid in the middle, making one of the game’s biggest plays. On third-and-10 from the Arizona 35, the Cardinals appeared poised to make one final run at tying the game. Lewis promptly thwarted that opportunity bursting through the offensive line as if shot out of a cannon and dropping quarterback Josh McCown for an 8-yard loss. In addition to the sack, Lewis posted six tackles.

          Martz said the defensive line elevated its game at the right time.

          “I thought Damione played very well,” Martz said. “The whole defensive line did a nice job in there.”

          MORE ON MARSHALL: Marshall Faulk proved to the league that he has plenty left, but Martz has been singing his praises all along. Faulk’s 22-carry, 128-yard performance wasn’t his greatest statistically, but the way he got his yards impressed the head coach.

          Martz said Monday that Faulk appears poised to...
          -09-15-2004, 01:06 PM
        • Rambos
          If the Shoe Fits
          by Rambos
          Wednesday, September 21, 2005

          By Nick Wagoner
          Senior Writer

          The improvement on the Rams' defensive line in the first pair of games could be attributed to any number of things, but as Mars Blackman (aka Spike Lee from the old Michael Jordan Nike commercials), would say, 'It’s gotta be the shoes.'

          For a group that has had its development slowed by a number of injuries, particularly to defensive tackles Ryan Pickett, Damione Lewis and Jimmy Kennedy, the solution to keeping the defensive line healthy and productive might have been in their feet this whole time.

          “The first two years they were here, injuries were always an issue,” coach Mike Martz said. “We took care of a lot of that just with the shoes. We started looking at their shoes and they were wearing a pair because they felt light and they looked pretty. Here’s this guy that’s 325 pounds with a pair of slippers with cleats on. He puts his foot on the ground and there’s no support. No wonder he fractures his feet. We made a big deal out of it with the league and Nike and Reebok were kind enough to come out with charts with weight limits on shoes.”

          Those charts had a correlation between the weight of the player and the size and amount of cushioning of the shoe. Mainly, though, the shoes were wider than the ones the group used before, which inherently provided more comfort and cushioning to the players using them.

          Martz even took the results from a study to the competition committee and told them about the problems the narrow shoes were causing to the bigger players.

          “We’ve asked all our linemen to wear hightops and they’ve expanded the shoes,” Martz said. “It’s made all the difference in the world. We haven’t had an ankle injury or, knock on wood, a foot injury since then.”

          The debilitating injuries along the defensive line have made it nearly impossible for the group to find its groove as a unit. You could almost set your watch to one guy getting healthy followed by someone else getting injured.

          Coincidentally, most of those injuries were foot or toe or ankle injuries that might have been prevented by having a better, wider, more-cushioned shoe.

          Perhaps none of the defensive linemen have been as affected as tackle Damione Lewis. Lewis was the team’s 12th pick in the 2001 NFL Draft out of Miami and was known for his quick burst off the line.

          But his progress has been slowed by a number of injuries, most of them in the feet and ankle. He broke his right foot in his rookie year after nine games and missed the rest of the season on injured reserve. He made it through 2002 without a problem, but suffered an ankle sprain that caused him to miss four more games in 2003.

          Lewis recovered to play in every game last season, but Lewis says the change of shoes has made him more comfortable.

          “All of the shoes...
          -09-21-2005, 03:19 PM