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A three-hour practice in temperatures that reached 90 degrees was no match for Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis.
Meeting the media afterwards, the 36-year-old seemed ready for another workout. Entering his 16th season, Lewis’ agelessness is perpetuated by a strict offseason regimen that seems to incorporate a new exercise each year.
“[He is in] maybe the best shape I have seen him in,” Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh said after Thursday’s humid training camp session, the first of the summer. “Now, he has been in great shape every year, but I think this is the best shape I have seen him in, now in the fourth year.”
The fact that he’s still performing at such a high level defies all odds, but for Lewis, it’s old-hat. He has surpassed 100 tackles in 13 of his 15 years in the NFL and led the Ravens in stops each time.
In doing so, Lewis has re-arranged the times of his workouts and added disciplines that include kickboxing, swimming and wrestling in the past.
This year, Lewis took to cycling.
“I credit a lot of my training to a lot of my cycling,” Lewis explained, getting more excited by the word. “I did a lot of cycling. I became real big in it. First couple times I went out there I was like, ‘Oh my gosh!’ I mean, the fatigue that you go through… ”
One reason Lewis brought out the bicycle is because it puts less stress on legs than pounding the pavement.
Lewis continued: “It’s really a mind thing on how you have to breathe and just let your legs keep going, going, going, going, and then when you get on the field and you go back to running, running isn’t the same because you can’t take as many steps running as you can cycling. So that’s one of the things that really, really helped me out a lot this season.”
Lewis is still listed at the 6-foot-1, 250 pounds he played at during a typically-stellar 2010 campaign (145 tackles, two sacks, two interceptions), but is seemingly leaner.
And his energy and health are at all-time highs.
Lewis made the most of his four months away from football, as far as training goes, but it’s evident that No. 52 was ready to get back on the field.
“When you get away from all the cuts, all the hard cutting, and all of these things, and you can come back kind of refreshed,” said Lewis. “[When] your mind is more refreshed, your body usually follows your mind. And for me, I couldn’t be more excited to kick the season off right now.
“I cannot describe to you how healthy I am right now. I’m really excited for football.”