What drives Marcedes Lewis in his 18th NFL season? The Chicago Bears TE’s daily grind amazes others who played the position.

Jim Dray, the Chicago Bears tight ends coach, is a person of few phrases when requested questions.

Generally he replies with straight-to-the-point solutions. He is amiable and listens intently earlier than providing succinct responses.

Asked how Marcedes Lewis nonetheless is doing it in his 18th NFL season, Dray was uncharacteristically verbose.

“He’s like a football relic,” mentioned Dray, who performed tight finish for 4 NFL groups over eight seasons (2010-17). “What he’s been capable of do and achieve and preserve at this degree, when it’s all mentioned and completed it ought to most likely be beneath pressed glass at a museum and one thing that’s studied.

“Marcedes will never get the credit he is due just because of the position he is in and what he’s asked to do on a daily basis. Not only that, but when young guys that are tired or banged up see a guy that’s been in the trenches banging every day, it’s inspiring.”

Thursday evening’s recreation towards the Washington Commanders at FedEx Field would be the 256th in Lewis’ profession. Jason Witten (271) and Tony Gonzalez (270) are the one tight ends with extra video games. Gonzalez is within the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Witten will be part of him within the close to future.

If the 39-year-old Lewis stays wholesome and finds a job subsequent season, he might surpass each.

“When I am done in a year or two, it will be because I am done,” Lewis mentioned. “It will be because I don’t want to play anymore and I don’t have anything else to give. Right now, I still feel like I am unique in a way that I can help the team win. That’s what gets me out of bed.”

It’s actually not the cash that drives him at this level. He’s on a modest one-year, $2 million contract after incomes almost $61 million by way of his first 17 seasons.

A few issues about Lewis are fascinating. First, he utterly remodeled himself as a participant. Drafted within the first spherical out of UCLA in 2006 by the Jacksonville Jaguars as a pass-catching menace, his numbers stand the check of time. He’s second in Jaguars historical past with 33 landing receptions and third in receptions (375) and yards (4,502).

Then he went to Green Bay in 2018 and have become the most effective blocking tight ends within the recreation, incomes the reverence of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who referred to Lewis as “Big Dog” — and, sure, tried to recruit him to the New York Jets.

It’s that savvy blocking as primarily a 3rd offensive deal with that appealed to the Bears once they signed him on the outset of coaching camp.

“It blows my mind,” mentioned Fox Sports analyst Greg Olsen, the previous Bears tight finish who was drafted within the first spherical a yr after Lewis. “I’ve had the chance to be around Marcedes at (Tight End University) and some of the stuff we’ve done and obviously I have followed him. The thing that stands out to me most about Marcedes is he kind of reinvented himself.”

Maybe extra intriguing at this level is how Lewis prepares his physique to be prepared each Sunday — or, on this case, on Thursday in a brief week. Players who spent half as a lot time in skilled soccer will inform you once they get off the bed every morning, at the least one aching physique half serves as a reminder of the toll the sport took. Knee sooner or later, again the subsequent, shoulder after that. It’s a unending cycle.

Lewis mentioned he doesn’t have these pains, and the 6-foot-6, 270-pounder goes to nice lengths to arrange his physique for the grind. He laid out his every day routine in a traditional week, which entails arriving at about 6 a.m. at Halas Hall, a 14-minute drive from the place he stays within the suburbs.

Monday: Dynamic pool warmup adopted in contrast, which is time in each cold and warm tubs, a apply that helps scale back irritation and soft-tissue accidents and improves blood circulation.

From there, Lewis heads to the sauna. Then he stretches, hops again within the chilly tub after which goes to the load room to roll out the muscle tissue, stretch and elevate. Next he runs a mile to 1 1/2 miles after which heads to conferences.

After conferences, the complete course of is repeated except the elevate and run. He begins within the pool once more and repeats each different routine. By the time he’s prepared to go away, it’s 5 p.m.

Tuesday: The regular gamers’ time off begins at 6 a.m. at Halas Hall for Lewis. The course of is identical. He does a lower-body elevate when he will get to the load room and runs two miles. Then he repeats all of it except a second elevate and run. With no participant conferences on Tuesdays, he’s completed earlier.

Wednesday: It’s the identical course of beginning at 6 a.m. earlier than conferences shortly after 8, although with none working as a result of he’s working towards that day. After apply, which ends round 2 p.m., the dynamic pool warmup, distinction within the tubs, sauna and stretch are repeated. Then it’s again into conferences, which carry to supper time.

Thursday: Lewis will get Thursdays off from apply to maintain his physique contemporary, however he’s in at 6 a.m. beginning the identical routine. He does an upper-body elevate and runs as a result of he isn’t working towards, however the routine to start the morning and post-practice is similar.

Friday: You guessed it, the day begins the identical method. After conferences and apply, the method is repeated and he ends with a therapeutic massage following his second stretch of the day.

He’s off his toes by 8 every evening with lights out round 10:30 to get sufficient relaxation.

“It’s a lifestyle,” Lewis mentioned of a year-round plan he developed beginning in his fifth season again in 2010. “I had my routine down, and yearly after that has been tweaking it, including, subtracting, relying on what my physique wants. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve added extra stuff.

“It’s just always buzzing the tower. We already work out super hard. I feel like if I can recover more than I work out, if that makes sense, then it will add up toward the end of the season. It’s almost like banked reps. I have recovered so much that any nick or anything (that) would normally bother me, it just doesn’t because my body responds to recovery already.”

Lewis is aware to not overwork his physique within the offseason, when he says his weight by no means dips beneath 263 or rises above 273. He has practiced blended martial arts for 12 years, and the previous UCLA ahead performs basketball — not five-on-five — to stay in form. He begins energy lifting in March for 3 months and in May transitions to decrease weights and extra reps.

“That way when football comes back around, I’m hungry for it,” he mentioned, ”versus beating my physique up on the grass from April all the way in which to July after which attending to camp and I’m burnt out.”

In 18 seasons, Lewis hasn’t had a single surgical procedure and he hardly ever has missed video games — only one for the reason that begin of the 2017 season.

“I try not to question it because I don’t want to jinx it,” he mentioned. “I’ve been playing football since I was 7 and the worst thing I’ve ever had was a strained calf.”

“I can only imagine at his age what he feels like,” mentioned Olsen, who performed 14 seasons. “I wasn’t as old as him my last couple of years and I felt pretty (crappy). I have a lot of respect for what his program must be and the way he cares for his body and what he goes through on a weekly basis. It must be pretty intense.”

The Bears used extra 12 personnel — one working again, two tight ends and two broad receivers — in Sunday’s loss to the Denver Broncos. Lewis performed a season-high 21 snaps and is raring to play extra.

He has good buddies from the NFL who’ve been retired for a decade, some extra. He has a close-knit group of buddies in Los Angeles, the place he lives, however the grind actually drives Lewis.

“I love the game,” he mentioned. “If you concentrate on life on the whole, it’s all in home windows, . Fortunately, my window remains to be open. I’m simply attempting to make the most of all the things that I’ve mentally and bodily whereas I’ve it. I don’t ever wish to be at residence watching ball and wishing that I may very well be on the market.

“There’s probably a whole bunch of guys who watch football on Sundays that wish they could come out and do it. It’s a gift. For me to stop short of giving everything I have would be not honoring that gift.”

So Lewis reviews to the ability every single day earlier than the solar is up and places his physique by way of repeated restoration classes simply to maintain going.

“The guy is amazing,” Dray mentioned.

Scouting report

Sam Howell, Commanders quarterback

Information for this report was obtained from NFL scouts.

Sam Howell, 6-foot-1, 220 kilos, is in his second season after Washington drafted him within the fifth spherical in 2022. At North Carolina he set Tar Heels information for landing passes (92) and yards (10,283) in three seasons.

Howell made his NFL debut in Week 18 final season, throwing for 169 yards and a landing towards the Dallas Cowboys, and successfully turned the starter when the staff didn’t make a transfer for a substitute within the offseason. He has 4 touchdowns and 5 interceptions this season and has been sacked a league-high 24 occasions.

“Reminds me a lot of Baker Mayfield as he’s a really streaky thrower,” a scout mentioned. “Lot of pointless motion within the pocket however he additionally has a big-time arm, pushes the ball to the third degree of the sector. Good runner however not a dynamic one. He is wise, bodily, robust and prepared to complete runs. Plays his greatest when he can play off schedule slightly bit. Not that he can’t throw it on time or play in rhythm. He’s proven the power to do this. But when he will get to the sides of the pocket, that’s when his recreation takes a step ahead or will get worse.

“What I imply is when he’s on the fringe of the pocket, he’ll make some spotlight throws. He additionally makes some selections that say, ‘This guy shouldn’t be beginning for our staff.’ I believe Washington is his upside as a thrower and runner and it offers them a unique dynamic on offense. He’s bought some dual-threat traits to him. Last week towards Philadelphia, he performed actually good soccer, challenged the Eagles secondary and took them to additional time. He bought outdoors the pocket and made performs.

“Week 3 against Buffalo, that’s bad tape for him. He was sacked nine times — a lot of those were on him. Looking for trap doors and trying to extend plays almost to his detriment, and then the turnovers, he threw four picks. He was out there playing street ball. So there’s give and take with this kid, but he’s still a young quarterback. He has traits pro coaches really value and some you have to rein in a little.”