EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – When the regular season begins, third-string running backs are generally far in the background, relegated to the sidelines for much of the game. In the case of Dion Lewis, though, his fantastic preseason may present some regular touches in the Eagles' offense.
Lewis took advantage of his chances on Thursday night in the preseason finale, accounting for 100 yards of offense from the line of scrimmage on 18 touches in the first half. He was tough running inside, quick to the edge and elusive when he was in the open field in the passing game. Lewis also did a good job blocking in pass protection.
Additionally, Lewis showed some explosiveness in the kickoff return game, bringing back the opening kickoff 40 yards, perhaps providing a sneak peek of what the Eagles have in mind to get Lewis on the field in the regular season.
In short, it was everything the Eagles hoped to see from their fifth-round draft pick from the University of Pittsburgh, who led the team in preseason rushing with 148 yards. Lewis averaged 4.1 yards per carry and added 102 receiving yards on 6 catches.
"He did a good job throughout the preseason," said head coach Andy Reid, who indicated after the 24-14 win at MetLife Stadium that Lewis would probably return kickoffs, at the very least, in St. Louis.
"I'm just going out there playing football like I always have, looking to make plays," said Lewis, who scored on a 1-yard touchdown to give the Eagles a 14-7 lead. "I had some chances out there and felt good. The offensive line gave me some holes and I just followed their lead.
"It's been a good preseason for me. I'm learning every day. It is a fast-paced offense and I like that."
As evidenced throughout the preseason, the Eagles are loaded at the halfback position with LeSean McCoy, Ronnie Brown and Lewis. Brown averaged 4.2 yards per carry in the preseason and looks like a perfect fit in the offense. McCoy, of course, is coming off a season in which he led the NFC in total yards from scrimmage. All three exhibit the kind of multi-dimensional skills the Eagles need in this offense.
Lewis fits in perfectly and looks like a steal from the April draft.
"I have to keep working and learning the offense and doing whatever they want me to do," said Lewis. "I know the game is going to change in the regular season. I have to be ready for that, ready for what the coaches want me to do."