Kendrick Lewis Bringing Veteran Presence To Secondary

The Ravens had a veritable merry-go-round at safety last year. 

Will Hill, Darian Stewart, Matt Elam, Jeromy Miles and Terrence Brooks all saw starts. And that's not just because injuries forced changes. Baltimore didn't settle on a starting two until just before the playoffs.

Now, with Kendrick Lewis officially signing his three-year contract Tuesday, the Ravens feel they have more security on the back end.

"He's the guy we were looking for in free agency," Defensive Backs Coach Chris Hewitt said.

"I think he's a guy that's going to come in here and solidify our defense, especially on the back end. We needed a veteran presence back there. He's a guy that's been starting in this league ever since he's been here."

Lewis had a veteran presence about him when speaking to the media for the first time. He seemed like he's been in the league for longer than five years.

Perhaps it's because Lewis has started 68 regular-season games during his five seasons. Even though he was a fifth-round pick out of Ole Miss in 2010, he immediately made his impact felt. He became a starter for his first team, the Chiefs, in his second career game.

He has every intention of starting in Baltimore, too.

"I'm a competitor, a full-time competitor," Lewis said. "No matter what position I'm put in, that's my goal, to become [part of] the starting lineup. From the moment I step on the field, from the moment I step in the classroom, I'm going to compete. It's up to the coaches, it's up to the organization to make that decision. But I'm going to give it my all."

When asked what he brings to the table, the first things Lewis pointed to were his intangibles.

"First of all, I bring my leadership, I bring my knowledge, I bring my talent and my playmaking abilities to help this team out," he said.

"I see my knowledge, my preparation – week in and week out, day in and day out – on the opponents I'm going to face [as a strength]. I like to have the edge on those guys. I like to be a step ahead, so I take my film study [and] I take my notes very serious."

The Ravens have a pair of young safeties that can now look to Lewis for additional guidance.

Brooks has plenty of talent but at times showed his rookie colors last year, particularly when trying to make plays on deep passes. Matt Elam, who is coming off a tough second season, has familiarity with Lewis from training together in Florida.

Lewis hasn't reached out to Elam yet (he was waiting to finalize his contract), but said he would be open to mentoring Elam if that's what coaches wanted and Elam is open to it.

But Lewis also wants to prove himself – not just help others around him.

Lewis played four years in Kansas City before they let him walk. He signed a one-year deal with the Houston Texans, started all 16 games and led them in tackles with 84. He was again not re-signed.

Lewis acknowledged that it put a chip on his shoulder, and he's happy to find a home in Baltimore.

Lewis said he had other options in free agency, but chose the Ravens in part because of their great defensive tradition and in part because of the endorsement he got from former Ravens tackle Michael Oher.

"Baltimore opened their arms and opened their doors to me," Lewis said. "I accepted it, and I'm just here ready to work as humble and as grateful as I can be. And I'm just here ready to better this team any way I can and just go all out and give them my all."

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