|ESPN.com: AFC North||[Print without images]|
Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker
BEREA, Ohio -- Trick question: Who was the only 1,000-yard rusher in the AFC North last year?
|Tom Szczerbowski/US Presswire|
|Jamal Lewis turns 30 in August, the age where running backs often begin to break down.|
If you guessed Jamal Lewis of the Cleveland Browns, you are correct.
Despite a 4-12 season by the Browns, Lewis still reached the landmark for running backs with 1,002 yards in 2008. Yet many questions surround the 10-year veteran.
Lewis will be 30 in August, which is the time running backs typically break down physically. In three of the past four years, Lewis also averaged under four yards per carry. His touchdown production dropped from nine in 2007 to four last season, and Lewis recently had ankle surgery.
Through all of this, Lewis said recently during organized team activities (OTAs) that he feels good going into his third season in Cleveland. During the practice sessions open to the media, he's done some work in team drills, while mostly working on the sidelines with a trainer.
"I'm just doing everything the doctors tell me to do," Lewis said.
Lewis will get plenty of opportunities to show what he has left in the tank this season. Under new head coach Eric Mangini, the Browns are implementing a conservative offense centered around pounding the football and protecting young quarterbacks Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson.
With 10,107 career rushing yards, Lewis is the only proven commodity at running back on the roster. Smaller backs like Jerome Harrison and rookie James Davis are competing for backup roles to provide depth and a change of pace to Lewis' bruising style.
"I think this system really fits him," Mangini said of Lewis. "I think the things that I have seen on tape, he has got that same mentality. The same types of aggressive runs that showed up last year, I am looking forward to them showing up this year. I am excited to get him back to full go and continue to see how it all develops."