DALLAS — Jourdan Lewis may be one of the forgotten cornerbacks on the Dallas Cowboys roster, but the former third-round pick from Michigan has dedicated what's left of summer to getting in shape for the 2019 season.
Lewis took time with the media at SportsCon in Dallas at Fair Park to talk about how he has been preparing his body to hold up for the 16-game onslaught called the NFL season.
"Just being stronger, just making sure my body can hold up during the season honestly," Lewis said. "The best ability is availability honestly in this league. Just being durable and knowing that this is a long season. So, basically, just getting my body prepared for this season."
Lewis has played exactly 15 games in each of his two professional season, starting in eight total. The 5-10, 195-pound cornerback knows that he is not the archetype when it comes to cornerbacks coach Kris Richard's secondary, but he has been improving on things other than a miraculous growth spurt to help his cause.
"That's all I'm focused on is getting better this summer," Lewis explained. "I did a lot of things this summer that I feel like I improved on, especially my explosion, different things like that, making sure I get in and out of breaks, just real specific things that I can showcase this year. So, basically just thinking about my work and my craft. That's honestly what I've been worried about."
The former Wolverine started in just one game his second season despite a promising rookie season the produced an interception, 10 pass deflections, and 54 combined tackles. Despite the lack of playing time, rather than choosing to mope, blame Richard, who was in his first season as the Cowboys' new secondary coach, or disengage altogether, Lewis opted to remain optimistic and wait for the opportunity to contribute.
Said Lewis: "As a competitor it's always tough, especially as a rookie and you're playing all of the time. It's definitely when you take a step back it humbles you. Sometimes you gotta understand that you have to wait your turn and work on your craft. Understand that you always have to stay a professional no matter your situation. And that's what I learned last year."
In some measure, Lewis was able to help the Cowboys, even in ways he may not have imagined. When receiver Tavon Austin was sidelined with a groin injury, Lewis filled in as the Cowboys' "web back" and carried twice for 12 yards and even had a pass thrown his way. Lewis also returned two kickoffs for 38 yards, and produced three kickoff returns for 60 yards in the playoffs.
The time Lewis sat, the limited reps he had made him appreciate the privilege more to play pro football and to be a part of a team.
"I appreciate the time that I sat last year honestly," said Lewis. "Because it made me a better player, maybe a better person honestly.
Not only does Lewis face stiff competition with Pro Bowler Byron Jones atop the cornerback depth chart, but fellow 2017 draft member Chidobe Awuzie is in the mix along with Anthony Brown. Dallas also drafted Michael Jackson in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL draft. Jackson is more of what Richard is looking for in a bigger corner at 6-1, 210 pounds.
Nonetheless, Lewis is ready to battle in camp, which opens July 26 in Oxnard, Calif.
"Hopefully, I can turn it around this year," Lewis said. "We'll see."
Do you think Jourdan Lewis will be able to recapture steady playing time on the defense in 2019? Share your thoughts with Mark on Twitter @therealmarklane.