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Lewis on D&H: Block responsibility biggest difference

08.23.10 at 1:15 pm ET
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Patriots defensive lineman Damione Lewis joined the Dale & Holley show on Monday morning to talk about his first training camp with New England and the biggest differences in transitioning to this defense.

“My whole career I’ve been a 4-3 guy and an inside guy, three technique,” said Lewis, who spent the past four seasons with the Panthers. “My main job has been penetrating. Here, it’s a little bit more of a block responsibility and not to say it’s not in the 4-3, but everything is based on penetration when you’re on a one-on-one block and being able to sit down on double teams. Here, block control responsibility has been the biggest difference.”

Lewis also talked about dual practices with the Saints and Falcons and if he would mind doing it more regularly if the NFL schedule went to 18 games.

Below are the highlights of the conversation. To hear the interview, visit the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Tell us how you got to the Patriots?

Well, it’s kind of hard to turn down [Bill] Belichick and these guys when they come calling. This program’s had so much success over the years and especially since my stint in my league is going into my 10th year and kind of starting that run back in 2001. I have a tremendous respect for the organization and the way they handle things. When you see guys outside of football and how they carry themselves, it speaks a lot about what they’re doing here.

How have things changed for you even from the start of training camp to now in terms of reps and expectations?

Well, I think the main thing about all of that is over the years you learn that you never know what the game is going to throw you. So, you have to be ready and ready to move forward, and that goes for me and for every other guy in the locker room. You never know what’s going to go down and you just can’t ask those kind of questions to yourself like, “What just happened?” You have to go whenever your number is called.

What are the big differences from this system and the ones you played in earlier?

My whole career I’ve been a 4-3 guy and an inside guy, three technique. My main job has been penetrating. Here, it’s a little bit more of a block responsibility and not to say it’s not in the 4-3, but everything is based on penetration when you’re on a one-on-one block and being able to sit down on double teams. Here, block control responsibility has been the biggest difference. It’s fun, when I see a lot of things or opportunities for guys like myself coming into this system to be used in that aspect of my game of getting off the ball to my advantage.

Is 4-3 just shooting the gap more fun than what you’re doing right now?

I mean, I’m just getting used to what we’re doing right now. I don’t know if it’s more fun or not, I’m just spending more time with my playbook, feeling like a rookie again, just trying to get acclimated. You know I did it for nine years and had a blast doing it so I’m not going to knock that either. I see some things, some opportunities for us to get out there and have some fun. I’m really looking forward to those challenges and looking forward to getting out there and trying to win.

What has been different here in training camp from other places you’ve been in?

The biggest difference has been the heat. It’s hot in Spartanburg, South Carolina, it ain’t no joke about that. You know, it’s the grind atmosphere. Both those teams were good ballclubs when I was there and you have to pay the cost to win. You have to go out and put the work in, put the effort in and go out and get the reps. It’s going to be dog days sometimes and you have to fight through those kind of days. You have to prepare for what you want to have and I think with both those organizations have done a great job of preparing us to go out and be successful and the same thing with this one.

How is it playing against this offense in practice?

I know we have a lot of weapons. But, you know, who’s to say? We go out there and grind against them every day but at the same I’m really worried about what I’m trying to do rather than how we’re looking on offense and stuff like that. Once I get a little bit more comfortable in what we’re doing, then I’ll start trying to take a look at how guys are handling themselves on that side of the ball. For the most part, I think they’re doing a great job.

What does practicing against other teams do?

This is my second time ever doing it. When I was in St. Louis, we practiced against Chicago once. It was fun and I actually like doing it. I think it puts a lot more into training camp, not to say we don’t go out there and work hard when we’re going against each other. It’s a lot more fun when you’re going out and competing against guys that you could possibly be playing against in a real game on Sunday. That really brings a fun aspect to the game and it’s easy to get up for practice, it’s easy to go out there and meet the challenges when you practice against other guys. It’s really fun, I really enjoyed it, and I wish they would do it more. I thought it was awesome.

They say if the NFL goes into an 18-game schedule, this is what training camp would be like with duel practices?

Well I wouldn’t have a probably with that. That would be pretty cool. It gives guys a chance to go out and compete against guys from other teams and that’s always what you want to do. That’s what you’re here for, you love to compete and love to go out and have your 11 matched up against another guy’s 11 and we’ll just see how it turns out. With that going out, I wouldn’t have any problem with that, I think it would be kind of awesome to do.

Is it easier to hit another guy in practice who has a different uniform on than you?

That’s what you’re programmed to do. You’re programmed to go out and every time that ball is one the grass, it’s time to go get it. … I don’t know if it’s the competition or competitive edge, I don’t know. It’s just something about looking at another helmet when you get down in a three-point stance.

Tell me what you think about finally wrapping up training camp?

Yeah, it’s time to get ready. We’ve been working to get ready for this season the whole time, but it’s there, it’s right there we can almost touch it. Guys are really starting to get in their mindset, ready for these 16 games coming up.

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