In most cases, NFL coaches handle rookies with kid gloves when it comes to asking them to learn more than one position.
But there are times when necessity forces the team’s hand.
Such was the case with Steelers’ rookie Roy Lewis.
With safeties Troy Polamalu and Anthony Smith not practicing early in
training camp, the Steelers were forced to move somebody to the position.
They didn’t want to take one of their veteran cornerbacks and move him to
the spot, though William Gay and Deshea Townsend each played free safety
in the past.
Instead, they asked Roy Lewis to make the shift.
It was an eye-opening move for both the Steelers and Lewis.
“He took advantage of an opportunity that wasn’t expected by me or by
him,” head coach Mike Tomlin said of the 5-10, 190-pound Lewis.
“That’s always a good sign.”
Lewis is positioning himself to earn a spot on the 53-man roster.
Tomlin, like most coaches, values players who can play more than one
position because of the flexibility it gives the Steelers.
Lewis didn’t lobby to move to safety, but he’s embraced it.
“They just said, ‘Hey, Roy, we want you to start taking some snaps at
safety and learn some safety,’ ” Lewis said. “I started studying my
playbook and started learning all the DB positions – whether it’s nickel,
dime or safety – so that if I was thrown into those positions, I would
know what to do. It’s helped me understand the whole concept of the
Lewis has done so despite not being able to practice with the team
throughout much of the offseason.
NCAA rules prohibit players whose class has not graduated from
attending offseason workouts other than mini-camp. Washington, where Lewis
was a three-year starter, is a quarter school, meaning its graduation date
is later than many universities.
So while the Steelers were holding offseason workouts this spring,
Lewis was still attending classes.
“I still had an opportunity to study my playbook,” Lewis said. “While
they were here grinding and working, I was just back at school doing
double-duty, going to class and working out and studying my book so I
would be caught up. I didn’t know exactly what I was missing, so in order
to prepare for everything, I made sure I was well-rounded in everything I
That’s paying off now.
“More than anything, what he’s done is cast a bigger net,” said Tomlin.
“He’s shown that he’s capable of doing multiple things and bettering his
chances of being a part of this thing. He’s very deliberate for a guy
who’s moving from corner to safety. He didn’t shy away from any contact.”
Dale Lolley appears courtesy of the Observer-Reporter