When Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis met with reporters at the teams minicamp last month, he looked lighter than usual and hinted that he planned to play at a lighter weight in 2012.
Boy, did he follow through on that.
When he met with reporters Wednesday on the eve of the teams first full-squad training camp practice, Lewis looked startlingly lighter and admitted he might have reached a new low threshold.
This is definitely probably the lightest Ive been since I walked into Baltimore in 1996, Lewis said.
After playing at 250 pounds last season, Lewis is listed at 240 this season and admitted even that was too much.
Yeah, Im probably a little lighter (than 240). Im probably a lot lighter than 240, he said with a smile.
That means he might be as low as 230, which, for the record, is just five pounds heavier than safety Bernard Pollard.
Lewis refused to divulge his exact weight.
I keep that to myself, he said, continuing to smile. You cant share everything. Im at a good weight, a good playing weight.
He repeated the explanation for his dramatic weight-loss that he gave last month: that he needs to be faster to remain effective in todays pass-happy NFL.
The game has changed, he said. The game is no longer about 250, 260-pound fullbacks, and offenses running it 23 30 40 times (a game). The game has changed. Its all based on matchups now. People want to find mismatches here and there, so you just change with the game. If everyone can run (it comes down to) who cant run? So for me, that was what my thought process was coming into this next year.
The news that Lewis might possibly play as much as 20 pounds lighter this season will certainly make the rounds in the NFL. Although he earned yet another Pro Bowl selection in 2011, he did struggle at times in passing situations and even found himself being picked on for probably the first time in his career.
Playing a lighter weight is his attempt to adjust, and the issue will be whether he remains powerful enough to remain effective against opposing blockers and runners.
Lewis believes this is the only way to go at age 37.
I had a couple of coaches over the years (giving) great advice that was shared with me: the later you get (in your career), the lighter you play, he said. You just feel better. Because you have the wisdom to go off and do whatever you want to do. But I just think playing lighter is much smarter for me.