Cornerback Keenan Lewis Becoming What Saints Envisioned


New Orleans Saints Keenan Lewis has taken some huge strides since he signed with the team back in 2013.

The signing of Lewis was meant to help lock up the secondary under then new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and bring a new attitude to the defense.

The one interception he had in four seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t blow many away but in the two seasons he’s been with the Saints he’s had six.

His grit was also evident playing through injury and refusing to leave the field even when last season his knee had swollen to the size of a softball.

Lewis is also from New Orleans, garnering the nickname “West Bank”, and cited it as one of the reasons he chose to sign with the team in free agency after being highly sought after.

It was exactly what the Saints needed after becoming one of the worst defensive units in 2012 and were looking for leaders with the revamp by Ryan.

But one thing that was quickly noted was that Lewis was not a vocal leader and readily admitted he was more of a “lead by example” type person.

If anyone has ever heard Lewis in interviews he is almost much like one of his old teammates and former Steelers safety Troy Polamalu…a man of few words and soft spoken.

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During the abysmal 2014 season where the defense took loads of criticism, players like Lewis and former Saints linebacker Curtis Lofton were asked if they needed to be more vocal.

The response didn’t please some in which Lofton repeatedly said he’s not a “rah rah guy” and like Lewis leads by example.

Fans were used to seeing former players like cornerback Jabari Greer, defensive end Will Smith, along with linebackers Scott Fujita and Jonathan Vilma take players to task if they weren’t performing.

It was woefully obvious in 2014 that there was a lack of leadership on and off the field with the defense running around looking like one of the old electric vibrating football games I had as kid.

Then came the “Red Wedding”(for all you Game of Thrones fans) where players like Lofton and running back Pierre Thomas were released and tight end Jimmy Graham was shipped to the Seattle Seahawks.

Lewis finally became vocal, but not in a good way.

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He feared what direction the team was going in with all the moves being made and made publicly stated that he wanted the Saints to either guarantee the rest of his contract, trade, or release him.

Lewis stated that if they couldn’t do that then he would skip organized team activities, minicamp, and promised he’d be a distraction.

The backlash was brutal from Saints fans with many taking him to task on his Instagram account and ready to wash their hands of the once herald corner.

But fences were eventually mended between not only the fans, but the front office as well.

The guarantee Lewis was looking for was given to him and even admitted on several interviews that he had likely gone about the whole situation in the wrong way.

He also said he apologized to head coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis as well as expressing his desire to retire as a Saint.

Oct 30, 2014; Charlotte, NC, USA; New Orleans Saints cornerback Keenan Lewis (28) and defensive end Brandon Deaderick (95) and cornerback Corey White (24) leave the field after the game. The Saints defeated the Panthers 28-10 at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Since then Lewis has been an adamant ambassador for the team welcoming new players in and was one person that was an active recruit in getting cornerback Brandon Browner to sign with the team.

In another gesture of goodwill, he decided to offer up his #28 to newly signed running back C.J. Spiller who wore that number when he was with the Buffalo Bills with Lewis taking #21.

Usually when a player wants a number from another player there is a price to pay for it with money, expensive dinners, etc.

But on his Instagram account Lewis said he did it because,

"28 mean a lot to Spiller, and I respect that. I’m not selfish a team guy"

Lewis has made contributions on the field for certain but that’s not all that is expected from him.

Most likely there will be a more vocal contribution as well from Lewis with fellow teammate Browner right beside him doing the same.

It would appear that as the weeks continue to roll by we’ll see more of the player that the Saints envisioned when they signed Lewis…just turn onto the “West Bank” and you’ll see….

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