- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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We could say Marcedes Lewis’ production is up in part because it’s a contract year.
But it’s not as if offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter is calling passes to him trying to crank up his value or David Garrard is looking to him in big situations because he wants to help the tight end get a raise.
With Mike Tice gone and Rob Boras in as the tight ends coach, Lewis is blossoming.
He’s grown to be a huge factor in the team’s run game since his arrival as a first-rounder out of UCLA in 2006. And that was always a bit odd since he came into the league rated as a great pass catcher.
He’s never had more than two touchdown catches in a season and he’s had stretches with drop issues. But he’s got five in five games for the Jaguars now. Only Antonio Gates (seven) has more.
Why are things so different?
Both Jack Del Rio and Lewis point to Lewis’ larger commitment to the offseason program and staying in Jacksonville, where he got a lot of work in with Garrard and gained stock as a locker-room leader.
“I just want to be in position regardless of if I’m blocking or catching the ball,” Lewis said. “There’s stuff designed for me now, that’s been one of the big differences ... Now it’s my time and I am seizing the moment.”
More on Lewis from three who are pretty familiar with him:
Maurice Jones-Drew: “He has always been a weapon. Obviously, he is a big target and he has slimmed up a little bit. He is much faster than he was and he is healthier. The last couple of years he has been banged up a little bit. He is just flying around. I think he is one of the best all-around tight ends in the game. You have a lot of tight ends that can catch the ball. You have a lot of tight ends that can block. You don’t have too many that can do both. He is a dominant blocker in the run game and then he is a great weapon in the passing game. He kind of opens it up for myself, Mike Sims-Walker, Mike Thomas and other guys to catch the ball.
Jack Del Rio: “He’s matured some; I think he’s more comfortable in his role and what we’re asking of him. I think the time he has spent in the offseason here, the last couple of offseasons building rapport with David (Garrard) and building confidence with the staff in ways that we can utilize him. I think that’s all kind of come together for him. He really had a great camp and it’s carried over to a great start to the season for us.”
Jeff Fisher: “Well he’s catching a touchdown pass every three times he catches the ball, basically. He’s off to a great start, I think more so than that he’s blocking extremely well. He’s developed into a very productive tight end.”