Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Doesn't Realize the Little Running Back out of Albany, N.Y. ... [Derived Headline]

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Doesn't Realize the Little Running Back out of Albany, N.Y. ... [Derived Headline]

Article excerpt

doesn't realize the little running back out of Albany, N.Y. is as likely to play the hero as anyone in uniform.

Now 27, he still smiles most readily recalling his days at Pitt, where he was the fourth leading rusher in school history despite leaving after his sophomore year for the NFL draft.

"Pittsburgh was great, the greatest time in my life," said Lewis, who led the Patriots in touchdowns in this, his only fully healthy season in New England. "I enjoyed Pitt so much, loved my teammates, still talk to them today."

So here's a scenario, you know, just spit-balling. Whatever that means.

The Steelers decide this spring to save Le'Veon Bell the inconvenience of playing for $14 million or so next year and set him free. Dion Lewis, who becomes a free agent beginning with the Super Bowl confetti shower, takes his love for a certain Western Pennsylvania burgh into the market and winds up playing on his favorite lawn next fall. He scored the winning touchdown there only last month, when the Patriots got out of town with a 27-24 win in the too-long awaited Elephant-In-The-Room Bowl Presented By Mike Tomlin.

"I'm just focused on the Eagles," Lewis said prudently. "We've got a tough challenge ahead of us."

The hypothetical Lewis-comes-full-circle narrative probably doesn't sound ideal to you, but the Steelers could do a lot worse than an all-Panther rushing attack of James Conner and Dion Lewis in 2018, unless you're among those who haven't figured out just how good Lewis is after a few professional indignities, like being a late-round pick and being cut for the first time in his life from anything by the Cleveland Browns.

Among NFL running backs who carried at least 125 times this season, none can match Lewis's 5.0 yards per carry. Pro Football Focus named him the most elusive runner in the league, noting that his yards-after-contact figure, 3.17, was third best in the league. The four other backs in the top five are, on average, four inches taller and 35 pounds heavier than Lewis (5-8, 195).

"He's one of those guys who make you miss, makes you look silly, and he can run," said Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham. "We have to make sure we don't lose sight of what we've been doin'. …

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