Ronnell Lewis apologizes to teammates; looking to contribute more in year two

Posted May 8, 2013

After apologizing to Lions' management, teammates, and fans, Lewis is focused on working his way into a deep defensive end rotation

The first thing Ronnell Lewis did when he got back to the Lions' training facility in Allen Park last month after a run-in with the law in Oklahoma was to seek out general manager Martin Mayhew and apologize for the incident.
Ronnell LewisDE Ronnell Lewis (Photo: AP Images)

Lewis was arrested after a bar fight in Oklahoma spilled onto the street.

"I think he understands his status and where he is right now, but it's frustrating," Mayhew said of the incident. "We've talked about it and we've dealt with it."

Mayhew wasn't the only person Lewis apologized to.

"I apologized to the team," Lewis told me Wednesday. "I feel like I embarrassed myself, my family and the guys and the organization. We've had a lot of that in the past and I don't want to be that guy again. I've learned from my mistakes and it's time to pick it up and take on a leadership role.

"The apology was gaining some trust back a little bit. It's not going to happen overnight. I just want to take one day at a time and hopefully it'll blow over in the weeks and months to come. Hopefully, my playing ability and my character on the field and off the field will help the situation."

Lewis also apologized to fans via Twitter this week:

"Just want to say sorry to everyone for letting y'all dwn with my dumb mistakes hope everyone can forgive me n if not I understand."

With the apologies out of the way, Lewis is now focused on trying to get into a suddenly-crowded defensive end rotation.

The defensive end position was arguably the Lions' biggest need heading into the NFL Draft with starters Cliff Avril and Kyle Vanden Bosch no longer on the team.

The Lions went on to take BYU's Ziggy Ansah with the No. 5-overall pick and also drafted Devin Taylor out of South Carolina in the fourth round.

Lewis, whom the team drafted in the fourth round last year, finds himself fighting for playing time once again.

"It's motivation," he said of the Lions drafting two players at his position. "They took two guys. One was highly drafted and one was in the same situation I was in (fourth-round pick) last year.

"In those rounds, players are good and they're going to have an opportunity to come in and play. It's going to make me work a lot harder and be more accountable. I'm going to continue working, which is all I can do."

Lewis was drafted with the idea that he could immediately contribute on special teams and develop into a contributor along the defensive line.

But when neither happened as fast as both he or the Lions would have liked -- he recorded two special teams tackles and only played one defensive snap last year -- Lewis found himself inactive the final seven weeks of the regular season.

"I felt like coming into (the NFL) was a different environment," Lewis said. "It might overwhelm some guys and I know it did me a little bit at times."

But now in his second season, Lewis says he's more comfortable with his environment, and, more importantly, the Lions scheme.

He wants to prove he can contribute.

"It's my time to step up," he said.

He'll battle Jason Jones, Ansah, Willie Young and Taylor for playing time this spring and into training camp. The Lions typically keep four defensive ends active on game day.

"I feel like my playing time and my practice throughout the week will carry over to the coaches," Lewis said. "Hopefully, it will get me somewhere. All I have to do is keep proving that out on the field."