Pitt's Lewis has cornerback pedigree
Pitt cornerback Ryan Lewis is proud of his uncle Tim. The two talk football whenever they can.
“I like to pick his brain every now and then,” Ryan said of his uncle, a former Pitt cornerback and Steelers defensive coordinator from 2000-03. “He's really smart.”
But he hasn't seen Tim Lewis on HBO's “Hard Knocks,” which features the Atlanta Falcons this year. Tim is the Falcons' secondary coach.
“Not yet,” said Ryan, who clearly has better things to do. “I haven't had a chance to watch TV.” Which is probably for the best. Lewis is busy trying to help ease Pitt's personnel shortage at cornerback after moving from safety.
“We were a little low (on cornerbacks),” said Ryan, whose father Will played cornerback in the NFL and is now the Kansas City Chiefs' director of pro scouting. “I said, ‘As long as I can get on the field, I'll help the team any way I can.' ”
Cornerback is one of the most important positions on the team — especially in the ACC, where offensive coordinators like to spread pass catchers all over the field.
After K'Waun Williams exhausted his eligibility last season, Pitt had only one cornerback above the sophomore class: junior Lafayette Pitts, who missed Monday's practice with a minor injury. Plus, Titus Howard, who might have been a starter, was suspended for the season for violating a team rule.
Into the void stepped Lewis, a sophomore backing up starter Trenton Coles, and freshman Avonte Maddox, who became first team when Pitts went to the sideline.
Maddox (5-foot-9, 165 pounds) already has been identified by secondary coach Troy Douglas as the team's best man-to-man cornerback. He regularly shadows wide receiver Tyler Boyd, who is 5 inches taller, and Monday he kept up with him stride for stride while breaking up a pass.
“I like covering him because it makes me better as a player,” said Maddox, who added he ran a 4.38-second 40-yard dash last year at Martin Luther King High School in Detroit.
“I want to go up against him every time, if I could. I'm never going to back down. I'm not going to show any fear at all.”
Meanwhile, Lewis said his comfort level is rising after seeing the defense from two positions in the secondary since arriving from Seattle in 2012.
“Playing both positions opened my eyes to the whole defense,” he said. “Now that I know the whole thing, it's just common sense.”
Lewis' size (6-foot, 195) serves him well in practice against Pitt's wide receivers, most of whom are taller than him.
“I'm not afraid to get physical,” he said. “Being physical is one of the most important parts of being a cornerback. Most guys don't realize that.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pitt’s 2015 schedule includes 5 road games in 1st 7 games
- Dixon vows to fix Pitt’s long-distance dilemma
- Pine-Richland’s DiNucci to Pitt; Kittanning’s Bowers opts for PSU
- Pitt adds Texas wide receiver as 16th commitment to Class of 2015
- Former WPIAL diving champ finds success at Pitt
- Gorman: Not just a no-brainer for Pine-Richland’s DiNucci
- Junior-college DE interested in signing with Pitt
- Pitt coach Narduzzi adds N.J. linebacker recruit
- Juco center Nix looks to fill void at Pitt
- Pitt notebook: Pitino: This year’s Pitt team not as talented as past years
- Pitt, Louisville square off after unusually long layoffs