Ronnell Lewis eager to put on the pads and do some hitting

Posted May 12, 2012

Type in Ronnell Lewis' name on YouTube and it's easy to see how he got the nickname "The Hammer."

Highlight after highlight shows Lewis coming down on kickoff coverage and laying the hammer on unsuspecting kick returners.

The rookies are only in shorts and helmets at this weekend's mini-camp and that means no hitting. Lewis, the Lions' fourth-round draft pick, said he's getting a little antsy for some contact.

"We'll do that during training camp," he said of getting the pads on. "My time will come."

For now, Lewis (6-2, 253) is learning the scheme, trying to get to the ball from his defensive end position and showing a little hustle.

"We're not hitting so if he is, he's breaking the coaches' rules," Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said with smile Saturday. "You see him move athletically, you see his instincts for football and things like that.

"We did a take off drill on kickoff yesterday but we didn't have anyone to hammer down the field. It was just running. He's moving well and this camp is a lot about learning and showing your athletic ability and things like that but there won't be many chances for him to really hit until we get to training camp.

"I'm certain we won't be talking about blowing anybody up until we get to training camp and preseason games."

Ndamukong Suh is generally regarded as the strongest player on the team, but Lewis might rival him pound-for-pound. Factor in the former power-lifter's speed at 4.6 seconds in the 40-yard dash, and the Lions are getting ready to set a freight train loose on special teams.

"I think the thing that he brings to the table that we really haven't had here for awhile is special teams ability," Schwartz said. "He's always been a good special teams player and he gives us a little bit different dimension than we've had on special teams."

Special teams will certainly be Lewis' big role early in his career, but he also fits the profile of what the team likes in their defensive end prospects. He's already shown flashes of terrific pass rushing ability this weekend.

"I think he fits well with our defensive ends," Schwartz said. "I think if you look at what other people might try to make a 3-4 outside linebacker, the Cliff Avrils and even guys like Vanden Bosch, they're less than 260 pounds. So he's not out of place with us and his skill set is good rushing the passer."

Lewis has spent most of his first two days as a Lion with defensive line coach Kris Kocurek, who sees a lot of tools to work with in Lewis.

"He's known as a tough guy, tough player, effort player - which is what we want and what we look for," Kocurek said.

"He's a defensive end in our scheme. There are certain things that we can do, as a hybrid, there are certain things that we can do with getting him involved in different packages as a linebacker; but we view him as a defensive end first and a hybrid-type linebacker in different situations once we move forward."

When Kocurek, Schwartz and the rest of the coaches are done molding Lewis, they're hoping the YouTube highlights include a bunch of sacks and tackles for loss, as well as devastating special teams hits.