When Ravens left guard Alex Lewis collided with a Titans defender 10 days ago, it looked like any other block he’s executed thousands of times.
But this time, Lewis said his entire upper body went numb. Afraid he was going to collapse, he dropped to a knee, then laid on his back. Lewis was carted off the field, then take to a nearby Nashville hospital.
During the ride to the hospital, the numbness started to fade. And in the end, it was diagnosed as a pinched nerve in his neck. The lingering physical issue was soreness and a stiff neck. Mentally, however, the incident left Lewis with longer-lasting effects.
Lewis returned to the football field Wednesday for practice, but speaking to reporters as he got suited up, he acknowledged that it’s a little different.
“Right now, I feel good, but mentally it will be a test to see how well I perform out there at practice,” Lewis said in his first comments since the injury. “Until I get a good pop, a good hit on me, mentally it’s going to be on my mind. But I’m trying to overcome it and get ready.”
The 6-foot-6, 305-pound blocker is one of the Ravens’ most intimidating players. When your body goes numb, however, it’s jarring regardless of who you are.
“I had some numbness. That was scary,” Lewis said. “I’m just thankful now that I can be walking around here and be back on the team.
“It was just one of those freak hits – something gets pinched in there. It was almost like a light switch went off for a second and came back on. There’s nothing that I could have done differently.”
A reporter asked Lewis whether the episode made him reconsider whether he wanted to play football again.
“Nah, man, I love this sport too much. Plus, it’s fun hitting people,” Lewis said with a chuckle.
“It’s part of the game. It was a nerve-wracking thing, but thankfully I’m walking, I have feeling and I’m ready to rock and roll. … I’m just thankful to be able to play the sport still.”
The Ravens’ offensive line is in flux at this point with three players dealing with injuries, making it unclear who will suit up at left guard Sunday in Carolina.
Lewis said his goal is to be able to play, but it’s still too early to know. Rookie Bradley Bozeman, who filled in Sunday against the New Orleans Saints, is dealing with a calf injury. Veteran James Hurst, who started all 16 games at left guard last season, has a back ailment.
Regardless of how it pans out, Lewis appreciated the support he got during an anxious time.
“The fans of Baltimore, they showed unbelievable love for me, wishing me well, giving me their prayers,” Lewis said. “I’m incredibly thankful for that.”