As a youngster growing up in Albany, Dion Lewis said he was a New York Giants fan and “frequent visitor” to the University of Albany campus when the Giants held training camp there.
“I was a frequent visitor at training camp at UAlbany,” Lewis said during a Friday conference call with New York media. “It was a great experience growing up being able to go watch those guys practice during training camp at a young age.”
Lewis named players like Tiki Barber, Amani Toomer, Kurt Warner and Ike Hilliard as offensive players he remembers watching.
Now, after signing a one-year, $1.55 million contract to back up Saquon Barkley, Lewis gets to play for the team he rooted for as a kid.
“It was a perfect, unique opportunity,” Lewis said. “There were a lot of factors. Joe Judge being there and having a relationship with him with my three years in New England.
“I grew up a Giants fan. It was always a dream of mine to be able to play for them. So, when I got the opportunity under these circumstances I couldn’t pass it up.”
He had a career-high 180 carries for 896 yards (5.0 yards per carry) with the Patriots in 2017, but saw a limited workload for two years in Tennessee with Derrick Henry getting the bulk of the playing time.
Entering his age 30 season, generally considered a barrier for running backs, Lewis said he feels “fresh.”
“I think my body feels pretty well. I didn’t take too much of a pounding last year so my body’s relatively fresh,” he said. “Whatever they need me to do. I keep myself in great shape. I feel like I still can play. I can still do the things I’m accustomed to doing. Make guys miss. If my number’s called I’ll be ready. Whatever they need me to do.”
Lewis, who has averaged 22.9 yards on 57 kickoff returns during his career, shared some thoughts on Judge.
“He brings a lot of energy. He’s really detail-oriented. You’re going to be prepared. He’s going to know exactly what he wants you to do and how he wants you do it,” Lewis said.
“He’s going to make sure everybody’s on the same page. He’s going to throw some jabs at you in meetings. The meetings are going to be lively — he has a lot of jokes. He’s a great guy and I can’t wait to get to work for him.”