Coaches over the years have told Ray Lewis, "The later you get, the lighter you play."
The 37-year-old Lewis has taken that advice this offseason in a major way.
Arriving at Ravens training camp for his 17th season in jeans and a white polo, Lewis looked slimmer than when he left. He may even be slimmer than he was during minicamp in mid-June.
Lewis is listed at 240 pounds in the freshly-printed media guide, but says he's probably "much lighter" than that. Lewis didn't reveal his actual weight, but gave an indication.
"Yeah, this is definitely the lightest I've been since I've probably walked into Baltimore," he said. "Yeah, definitely."
Lewis lost the weight because he's adapting to the changing game. He said he was watching TV the other day when Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was talking about how it's a passing league now.
It's not that it dawned on him then, but simply reinforced what Lewis took out of last season.
"The game ain't no more 250 or 260-pound fullbacks and you have offenses running the ball 25, 30, 40-plus times," Lewis said. "The game is changing to where it's all based on matchups now. So you just change with the game. If everybody runs, you've got to run."
Lewis should be quicker with his new, leaner frame. That may make him better in pass coverage, and keep him as the three-down linebacker he has always prided himself on being.
Lewis credits his longevity on his ability to change with the game.
He still has reporters and fans asking how he does it. How does he feel entering his 17th training camp?
"I just think it's something that I really learned about the game is that I really appreciate it," he said. "I just love playing the game. I love competition. That's why I keep coming back every year, every year, every year."
He's made 2,586 career tackles, leading all active players by more than 300 stops. But Lewis says he's still the one dishing out the pain, not the other way around.
"Whether you think about how you feel after making a play, I really don't," Lewis said. "Somebody's feeling it. He's under me."
When it comes to retiring, Lewis repeated what he's said the past handful of years. He says it would be "selfish" of him to walk away when he still has so much passion for it. He said he would be "cheating" everyone of his* *teammates and coaches.
"Me being back here 17 years, honestly, feels like Year 1 again," Lewis said. "Every year I embark on something new. Here we go, starting all over again."