NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Titans have added some lightning to go with their thunder in the running game.Former Patriots running back Dion Lewis will add some electricity to the backfield — and the entire offense — in Tennessee in a tandem with bruising back Derrick Henry.
The big question now is: How will they be deployed under new head coach Mike Vrabel and offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur?
The answer will come in time. But for now, the Titans and Lewis have officially reached a deal that brings the versatile back to an offense that plans to utilize his skills. Lewis is known for his quickness, and his ability to catch the football out of the backfield. He proved that during his playing days with the Patriots.
Now Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota should benefit from his presence, and LaFleur should have some fun creating matchup problems for opposing defenses.
Lewis can run. In fact, in the last eight games of the 2017 season, Lewis led the NFL in rushing yards (625), with an average of 5.12 yards per carry. Compared to all backs with 150 or more rushing attempts, his per-carry average of 4.98 yards led the NFL in 2017.Lewis, who signed with New England in 2015, led the Patriots with 896 rushing yards on 180 carries (5.0 average) in 2017, with six touchdowns. He had a pair of 100-yard games in 2017 — vs. Buffalo (129) and Miami (112).
In his career, which also includes stops with the Eagles, Browns and Colts, Lewis has 1,584 rushing yards, with 10 touchdowns, on 329 carries.
Lewis can also catch. He caught 32 passes for 214 yards and three touchdowns in 2017, while also serving as the team’s primary kickoff returner (23 returns, 570 yards, one touchdown). He’s caught 88 passes for 717 yards and five touchdowns in his career. He’s been a matchup problem for opposing defenses.
The 5-foot-8, 195-pound Lewis was a real pain for the Titans in the January 13, 2018 playoff game, when he racked up 141 all-purpose yards. Lewis had 62 yards on 15 carries in New England’s win over Tennessee, and he also caught nine passes for 79 yards.
The 6-foot-3, 247-pound Henry led the Titans in rushing in 2017 with 744 yards on 176 carries. Earlier this month the Titans released veteran running back DeMarco Murray.
Lewis, who played collegiately at Pittsburgh, entered the league in 2011 as a fifth-round pick of the Philadelphia Eagles. He played in 24 games over his first two NFL seasons, before being traded to the Browns in 2013. But he suffered a leg injury in the preseason, and was placed on season-ending injured reserve. After being released in 2014, he spent a week with the Colts, but didn’t play in a game.
With the Patriots, Lewis tore his ACL in 2015, and he had a setback in his recovery a year later that cost him the first half of the 2016 season. Lewis had two 90-yard receiving games that season before the injury.
In the 2016 season’s playoffs, Lewis became the first player in NFL postseason history to have a running touchdown, a receiving touchdown and return a kickoff for a touchdown in a single game in the Divisional Round win vs. Houston (1/14). He scored on a 13-yard reception, returned a kick 98 yards for a touchdown and he also added a one-yard touchdown run.
Lewis played in all 16 games for the Patriots last season, as well as three playoff games, including the Super Bowl.