What is his best position? It’s the same answer every time from Alex Lewis.
“Offensive lineman,” he says with a chuckle.
But which spot does he prefer?
“You guys already know that – starter, man. Starter,” he said. “Being on the field. That’s the No. 1 goal right now.”
After missing last season because of a torn labrum (shoulder), Lewis is itching just to be on the field, whether that be at guard, center or tackle. His surgeons told him it would be a six-to-eight-month recovery, and Lewis is now at nine months.
“So we’re feeling pretty good and ready to rock,” Lewis said.
A fourth-round pick in 2016, Lewis showed great promise his rookie year when he made eight starts at tackle and guard, but that season was cut short by an ankle injury.
Last year, he was projected to be a starter, but opted to have surgery instead of trying to play through an injured shoulder.
Still, Lewis is just 25 years old and has loads of potential. The 6-foot-6, 315-pound Nebraska product has the right mentality and massive strength. He said he’s learned a lot while on the sideline, especially from All-Pro guard Marshal Yanda, who was also recuperating last season from a broken ankle.
Lewis said this season will be a “big year” for him. His head was still spinning as a rookie, then he had the injury last year but kept learning and growing. Now he says he feels more comfortable as a player and person in the building.
“So this should be a breakout year,” Lewis said.
It’s still unknown, however, at what position that breakout could happen.
At the NFL League Meetings last month, Head Coach John Harbaugh said Lewis is the frontrunner to be the Ravens’ starting left guard with re-signed James Hurst bumping out to right tackle and Matt Skura stepping in at center. But that could always change, as Ravens fans have seen before.
Primarily a tackle in college, Lewis said he’s also spent some time at center. His father played 10 years in the NFL at center, so Lewis grew up snapping the ball. His father always preached that the more positions he knew, the longer his career would last.
“As an offensive lineman, you understand very early that things can change week-to-week,” Lewis said. “You’ve got to be dynamic and versatile, learn to understand that and accept it as a player and be able to go in there and fill in and play at a high level.”
Lewis knows this is the time to prove himself. After all, he’s seen other young former Ravens offensive linemen such as guard Kelechi Osemele (Oakland Raiders), tackle Rick Wagner (Detroit Lions) and now center Ryan Jensen (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) get big paydays elsewhere.
“Seeing that is just motivation, and knowing it’s not luck,” Lewis said. “Everything is hard work in this world, and it’s not going to come easy, but if you put your nose to the grinder and good things are going to come about.”