Ravens MLB Ray Lewis reportedly looks slimmer than usual, and it's clear he's trying to become quicker. For Lewis, who’s listed at 6-foot-1 and 250 pounds, it’s a nod to a game that’s different than when he entered the NFL in 1996.
“(Anytime) you come back in your 17th year, you kind of want to come back with a different mentality and different thinking,” Lewis, who was listed at 240 in his rookie season, told reporters in June. “So, my mentality was, change with the game. There’s no more true, true, true, physical, physical fullbacks that are going to come at me and sledgehammer all day.
“So, everything is about mismatches now. And everything is about speed and about running and trying to get smaller people on the field. So, just adjust to the game, and as you see guys get older in their careers, you see a lot of people don’t do that. And that was my thing this year. … Everybody wants to go with all these little five-wides and all this different stuff. Just change with the game, and that was kind of my thought process.”
Of slimming down, Lewis said: "I think it becomes kind of easy when you go through the things that I went through in my regiment as far as training and then as far as eating and everything. So, it just naturally comes off, and as hard as you go with it, it’s just going to naturally take care of itself, and that’s pretty much, it’s been the course for me."
One longtime NFL defensive assistant who’s familiar with Lewis’ game believes getting leaner — Lewis was coy on whether he had actually shed a few pounds — is the right move for the future Hall of Famer.
“It’s very smart,” the coach, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told PFW. “Guys who know what they’re doing, that’s what they do.”
One example the coach cited was Giants DE Michael Strahan, who dropped weight toward the end of his career and still played at a high level.
Whereas a younger player can carry a few extra pounds and get away with it, that excess weight can be problematic for an older player, the coach said. “A lot of that extra weight is not good weight,” the coach said.
Shedding a few pounds, the coach said, can be very helpful.
“It’s easier on your joints,” he said. “You recover faster.”
The reduced bulk isn’t a big concern for a veteran, the coach said, “because you know how to play.”
One NFL personnel man told PFW that Lewis’ decision to try to get quicker isn’t uncommon among accomplished veteran players trying to fight off Father Time.
Of Lewis, the evaluator opined: “He knows that his window is closing fast.”