Nik drops the ball

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:04 AM ET

Bouncing on an exercise ball in the Calgary Stampeders locker-room -- just for fun, not fitness -- Nik Lewis states his case.

"I'm still a kid, I just don't focus too much," argues Lewis, only 24 but already in his third CFL season.

"My girlfriend calls me five but I act like I'm at least nine or 10.

"It's a lack of concentration."

Despite climbing to fifth in league receiving this season with more than 300 yards, the 2004 rookie of the year has made some notable drops through four games.

Two weeks ago against Hamilton, Lewis failed to corral a pass at the goal line under tight coverage. Saturday against the Saskatchewan Roughriders, he couldn't find the handle on a pass in the endzone.

Both were surprising miscues by a slotback who latched onto a reputation in his first two CFL seasons as the Stamps' money receiver, his huge mitts the surest target in the loop.

Yet a tendency to drop easy passes has even turned up in practice where the young Texan occasionally muffs a catch.

"I wouldn't say I lose concentration but sometimes, if I think about it too much instead of just reacting to it and making the play, I drop the ball," Lewis said.

"I'm not frustrated. Sometimes I relax too much and drop some easy ones. I just need to focus. I don't get mad, though, because I know I can catch all of them. I don't get frustrated but I slam the ball because that helps me get focused again. The harder ones are easier, not enough time to think."

The Stampeders leader in receptions last season, Lewis is second this season with 310 yards and two TDs, 66 yards behind Jeremaine Copeland. Lewis signed a contract extension prior to this season and his miscues have naturally led to speculation the new deal has made him complacent.

"Have I levelled off? I don't think I've levelled off, I think I've gotten better," Lewis said.

"My season didn't start off great but I think I'm just as good if not better than last year. This is the best receiving corps we've had (since arriving). I had five opportunities (in Regina) and I caught four of them."

Receivers coach Bill Diedrick, in his second season, has been surprised by Lewis' highs and lows. After one of Lewis' many remarkable catches, the drops just don't seem possible.

"You look at the throws he's caught that have been outstanding catches and then you look at his drops and think, 'Those are pretty easy,' " Diedrick said.

"I think sometimes he maybe not loses focus so much but doesn't concentrate enough and takes it for granted. Those are the things where you just keep trying to push a young player to be consistent."


Videos

Photos