THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – A healthy scratch for multiple games following the arrival of Von Miller. Continual external speculation about his knee.
For those and other reasons, the 2021 season did not go as Rams outside linebacker Terrell Lewis had hoped.
The 2022 season, however, has been a much different story.
With Miller gone and most the Rams' outside linebacker rotation returning, Lewis has been able to thrive so far as one of those returnees, helping make plays and put pressure on opposing quarterbacks through the first three games.
"Just stacking blocks," Lewis said during a video conference Monday. "I mean, I've been kind of coming out with the same mindset week in, week out, just trying to keep building off of it. It's real early in the season, so I like where I'm at, (but) I know I can take it even further. I think I left a couple – it was a couple of plays where I'm like, 'Man, it was almost a sack' or 'that was almost a pick.' So just keep building off of it and keep getting comfortable with our unit that's out there rushing together, and just being able to play off guys, know when my ops are, when when it's kind of like okay, I need to speed to power here, things like that."
So far, Lewis has had his hand in multiple plays. Through the first three weeks of the season, he's registered eight total tackles (one for loss), one sack, two QB hits, one interception and one forced fumble, being the disruptive force the Rams likely envisioned when they took the 6-foot-5, 262-pound edge defender in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
Lewis has been able to flourish in part because of having the mindset to enjoy each day and each moment of the journey, which he said was something last year was taught him to do. He's also in a great space physically and mentally, and makes a concerted effort to pick the brains of veteran teammates like defensive back Jalen Ramsey, linebacker Bobby Wagner and defensive lineman Aaron Donald.
"I feel like mentally I'm in a great place," Lewis said, when asked what besides that mindset is different for him this year. "I feel like mentally, physically, I'm probably in the best place I've been since I've been here honestly."
Teammates noticed before the season began, too. In training camp, outside linebacker Leonard Floyd said Lewis had been taking care of his body during the offseason and could tell Lewis was pass-rushing with confidence in his knee, in terms of the bend being displayed by Lewis.
"T-Lew been playing like a professional so far this season," outside linebacker Leonard Floyd told theRams.com. "He's been coming in, doing his rehab, making sure he know his gameplan. He's been doing a good job of playing and going hard on Sundays, making plays. I'm proud of him so far."
Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris said Lewis has been healthy, moving well, rushing well and defending the run well and making plays every week. Lewis and Hollins are both splitting time at the other outside linebacker spot because they view both players as starters, according to Morris.
"Terrell's definitely showed up in a big way and had a major part in all the games that we played," Morris said Friday. "I credit him for the work he's put into in the offseason, the work that he's put into it just in general to get to this point. I'm proud of him for what he's done."