Browns running back Jamal Lewis may be playing on a one-year contract and sharing snaps with Jason Wright and Jerome Harrison, but he couldn't seem more upbeat.
Part of the reason has to be his relief to be out of Baltimore. His old team was drubbed 38-7 by Pittsburgh on Monday night to fall to 4-4. Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis has drawn headlines for his criticism of coach Brian Billick's offense, but Jamal Lewis has been saying the same things since he arrived in Cleveland. (Ray Lewis also made similar remarks on a conference call with Ohio media before the Sept. 30 game.)
But Jamal Lewis also sounds happy about the choice he made to sign with Cleveland.
Asked how the chemistry compares to Baltimore, Lewis said, ''It's way, way, way, way, way better on offense. We're clicking on all phases. We're running the ball well, we're throwing the ball well and we're putting up points. I've never put up this many points ever in a season, probably since college. I love it. I'm happy in this system, I'm happy with what we're doing.
''Everybody's playing together and has the will to win. We know we can execute the plays the offensive coordinator is putting in.''
Lewis said he can see the confidence growing in the huddle.
''From everybody, from wide receivers to the offensive line. Everybody is pretty much confident in the huddle that we can make plays and get things done,'' he said.
He practically gushed about the Browns' offensive line, even though he played with a likely Hall of Famer in Baltimore's Jonathan Ogden.
''This line is younger, faster, they amaze me every time I get in the huddle because they're like, 'Let's go, let's go get these yards,''' Lewis said. ''They're a great group of guys and they all have the will to fight and the will to win. I love to get behind them. I'm happy running behind this offensive line. They're young, they're motivated and they're ready to go.''
Lewis also seemed nonchalant about losing his NFL single-game rushing record to Minnesota rookie Adrian Peterson last weekend. Peterson dashed for 296 yards against San Diego, breaking Lewis' mark of 295 set against Cleveland on Sept. 14, 2003.¶
''I thought eventually it would be broken because it wasn't actually out of reach,'' Lewis said. ''At least a guy I really respect got it.
''He probably could have gone for more yards. He got started late. You can only imagine if he'd gotten cranked up in the first half.''
Lewis was nostalgic about his big day, saying he could have gotten 350 because he was on such a roll. But he plans to contact Peterson to congratulate him, even though he had Peterson's number in his old cell phone and is still trying to track him down.
''I'll touch base sometime,'' Lewis said.