New York Giants’ wide receiver Roger Lewis may benefit from the team’s freshly powered offensive attack in 2018.
Last season, the Giants were decimated with injuries, at receiver in particular. Losing Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall and Dwayne Harris for the year with ankle/foot injuries and playing without Sterling Shepard, who encountered a number of injuries in 2017, for five games, Eli Manning and the Giants’ passing attack were underwhelming. Finishing 19th in passing yards per game (217.4), they struggled to pose a formidable threat in the air without their premier wideouts. A bright spot in the midst of their collective woes was the play of Lewis.
While he didn’t wow anybody, Lewis did step up and produce. Finishing 2017 with 36 receptions for 416 yards and two touchdowns in 15 games played, he showcased an ability to play well when called upon. While those totals aren’t eye-popping, the second-year wideout was thrown into a difficult position being asked to serve as the team’s number one outside threat for the majority of the second half of the season. Lewis also reeled in arguably the most significant catch of the year for the Giants in their Week 11 matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs.
With the game tied at nine apiece in overtime, Lewis reeled in a diving 34-yard catch on a fourth down pass (even though he was untouched and him running into the end zone should’ve resulted in the game-winning touchdown) from Manning which one play later resulted in Aldrick Rosas kicking the Giants to a thrilling victory on home turf.
In 2018, Lewis will have the luxury of not being relied on as much. With Beckham and Shepard back, alongside tight end Evan Engram, who led the team in receptions (64) and touchdowns (six) last season, the Giants have a number of weapons that’ll attract attention from opposing defenses. And while Lewis could, in theory, fall off the team’s depth chart if every receiver under contract for next season returns, Marshall is a viable candidate to be released which would allow the Bowling Green State product to be the Giants’ third receiver.
Lewis has shown he can be a downfield threat and, after two years, he and Manning are familiar with one another. At the same time, it’ll be crucial that Lewis become a more consistent player. While he did reel in 36 passes in 2017, Lewis couldn’t come up with just as many throws from Manning.
In an interview with Giants.com’s Matt Cohen, Lewis discussed how he wants to work on his technique this offseason.
“I’d say more with the technique,” Lewis said. “It’s not the year that everyone wished for, but all I want to do is win. So more with the technique, more fundamental. For next year come back bigger, stronger and faster and being able to be great.”
Beckham and, at times, Shepard, will garner the most attention on the outside, while Engram focuses on getting open in the middle of the field. Simultaneously, Lewis can take advantage of the trio being in front of him.
If he can get faster and become more fundamentally sound, Lewis can thrive as the team’s number three receiver. Opposing teams won’t be fortifying their game plan towards shutting him down. Plus, with cap space to go out and shore up their ailing offensive line, management can help provide Manning with more time to get the ball to Lewis and friends.
He may not be the Giants’ X-Factor, but Lewis will have the chance to excel in 2018.