Dion Lewis hasn't been a Patriot for even half a season, yet he's already maximized his opportunities with New England. The 25-year-old running back agreed to a two-year contract extension with the Patriots this week, as first reported by ESPN. Lewis stands to earn $4.8 million in new money under terms of the reworked deal.
According to ESPN, Lewis will receive a $600,000 signing bonus, plus base salaries of $800,000 in 2016 and $1.2 million in '17. There are also bonuses that could total $1.8 million.
At his locker before Thursday's practice, Lewis confirmed that he is now a wealthier young man today and explained his rationale for inking the new contract.
"[The Patriots] gave me a chance. That's all I can ask for. They gave me a chance, so it's on me to repay them as well," he said. "They already showed a commitment to me, and now I've just got to honor it. They gave me a chance, and that's how I repay them."
Lewis signed a futures contract with New England shortly after the Super Bowl, after spending the 2013 season on Cleveland's injured reserve list and surviving being cut by both the Browns and Indianapolis Colts last year. After missing some time early in training camp this summer due to injury, Lewis quickly asserted himself and has become an integral part of New England's offense in the first three games.
Yet even with his newfound wealth, Lewis insists he's not taking anything for granted.
"No, not at all. Anything can still happen, so [I'm] just continuing to do what I've been doing, coming to work every day and just trying to get better.
"It means a lot," he added, reflecting on his sudden reversal of fortune. "My teammates trust me, my coaches trust me, so all I can do to repay them is come in here and work hard every day and give them all I've got. So it's good that my teammates and coaches find me accountable."
Teammate Rob Gronkowski told media Thursday that he "kind of knew" that Lewis was going to be a playmaker for this offense.
"I've been telling a couple of my friends all the time, like, 'Man this new guy we picked up man, he can move,'" said Gronkowski. "His quickness and the way he makes guys miss is just unreal. I wish I kind of had those moves. I always wish."
Gronk on Witten, Part II
Yesterday, we shared with you how much the Patriots All-Pro tight end admires his Cowboys counterpart, Jason Witten. Today, Gronkowski went further, telling New England media what specifically he enjoys about Witten's game.
"His consistency – he's out there all the time. He's barely missed any games in his career. He's basically played in every game, and his consistency out on the field, his production out on the field. He's always read to play. He's always ready to make a play. That's what's huge about this game, is going out there every single game, every single week, and going out there and competing at a high level."
Weeden out the opposing QB
As we also noted earlier this week, Dallas will be without starting QB Tony Romo Sunday, meaning backup Brandon Weeden gets the start against New England.
"I think he's done a good job just taking charge of the offense," observed safety/co-captain Devin McCourty. "I think he's making sure he doesn't turn the ball over or make any bad plays, and I think that's the start of facing a good quarterback – just not having many opportunities to take advantage of their mistakes.
"I think he's done a good job, and then I thought last week, watching that New Orleans game, you see [the] two-minute drive at the end of the game, him taking them down and getting a big touchdown. So I think with any quarterback or any player, the more you're out there each week, you can see he's starting to get more and more comfortable."
For the third day this week, the Patriots had all 53 players on the active roster, and all 10 on the practice squad, suited up and practicing to prepare for Dallas.