Quick hits from Damione Lewis

FOXBOROUGH – Quick hits from this morning as defensive lineman Damione Lewis answered questions from reporters at Gillette Stadium:

Memories from 2001 and the Super Bowl. Lewis reflected on his rookie season with the St. Louis Rams in 2001 and how he broke his foot in a regular-season game against the Patriots at Foxboro Stadium. That was the last loss the Patriots had in that unexpected Super Bowl season, and also the last game Lewis played that year. “It was one of those bittersweet seasons,” he said. “I felt like I was starting to turn it on my rookie year, and the season moved on [without me].” Lewis figured as a rookie that the Rams would be back in the Super Bowl soon enough, but an 0-5 start in 2002 sent the team in the wrong direction. He felt the departure of middle linebacker London Fletcher was one of the big things that hurt the Rams that year.

Chasing the ring. Lewis's experience from 2001 is one reason he’s still longing for a Super Bowl ring. “It’s a hard lesson learned. They tell you that a Super Bowl will spoil you if you go your rookie year, that it’s not as easy as it seems,” he said. “I’ve been chasing that dream ever since.”

Ready for anything. From a physical makeup standpoint, Lewis looks more like a 3-4 nose tackle than an end. But at this point, he hasn’t been told where he’ll play. “They said ‘be ready and learn everything’,” he relayed. “I want to learn the whole line and get a very good concept of the defense and how it runs, as far as how the linebackers fit with the d-linemen and all that stuff. I think that is much more important in a 3-4 than a 4-3. In a 4-3, I had one solo job – to penetrate and be disruptive. It didn’t matter if you made a tackle the whole game, but as long as you’re penetrating and making the ball bounce, then you did your job. This is totally different than that. That’s what makes it fun and exciting.”

Durable over the last two years. Lewis started 15 of 16 games in 2008, and started all 16 games last season. Asked to explain how he seems to be getting more durable as he gets older, Lewis laughed. “Like a bottle of wine, baby,” he said, smiling. “It gets better with age.” Turning serious, he pointed to his diet and ability to avoid injuries (3 surgeries in nine years).

How he views leadership. “I think I’m more of a lead-by-example [guy]. I like to come in and get my work in, and I like to have fun in the locker room and [talk] it up with guys. I think leadership is more of a personality trait. I don’t think it’s something you can force yourself into," he said. "Right now, I do not consider myself a leader on this team. There is no way, no how. You have Vince [Wilfork]. You have [Jerod] Mayo. You have [Tom] Brady. You have too many people who have been here and done it, been through the system and been successful. There is no way I can come in and say ‘I’m automatically a leader.’ These guys don’t know me from Adam. So all I do is keep my head down and work, be social with guys, and hopefully my work ethic passes on to the younger guys and to guys my age as well. I’m going to come in and grind every day, and give them everything I got every day and double it up on Sunday.”