Earlier this year we looked at the prospects of Eagles players hitting their 2nd season or "leap year" as its sometimes called. This is when guys have their rookie season in the books, they know the speed of the game, they're familiar with the playbook and can generally stop thinking as much and start playing.
One of the guys I talked about was RB Dion Lewis. Here's what I wrote then.
Lewis showed some flashes running the ball last year averaging 4.4 yards per carry, but the Eagles brought in some competition for him this season. But here's where the leap year guys should stand out. Dion Lewis should know the offense better than Bryce Brown or Chris Polk. He should be more patient and he should understand pass blocking better than those guys. This is exactly what we look for in second year guys.
So far, Lewis has been a cut above the rookie backs. Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg singled out the 2nd year back in his press conference today.
"He has had an excellent camp up-to-date and he's a fine runner. He's excellent with his protections. He's a little shorter than one would think, but he's certainly bigger because he's a very strong and physical man. He's doing a nice job in the pass game as well."
In addition to Marty's always liberal use of the word "excellent," you'll notice in that quote that he mentions "protections." For an Eagles RB, this is a key point. RBs in college, especially good ones, do little or no pass blocking. So its usually quite an adjustment for them to learn it in the NFL... and if you're an Eagles RB and you can't be trusted to pass block, you don't play. So Lewis says that he has prioritized his blocking this summer.
"I did a little bit [in college] but every day I am trying to get better at it. A big part of this offense is being able to block so every day I am trying to work on my technique and take all the coaching points in and soak everything in to try and apply it on the field."
And as for that whole "stop thinking and start playing" thing we want to see 2nd year players do... Lewis is embracing that as well.
"I am confident and am comfortable. I have been here already. This is my second training camp so I've got the whole thing down and the whole routine down. I am just out there playing fast without thinking. Last year I was thinking and wasn't sure about my assignments but now I know everything and I am just going out there to try and get better every day."
Certainly all good news for Lewis and his future. I think we're all looking forward to seeing how this translates on the field in preseason.