30's the new 1,000 for Stamps' Lewis

Nik Lewis is back for another CFL season with the Calgary Stampeders. He was at McMahon Stadium for...

Nik Lewis is back for another CFL season with the Calgary Stampeders. He was at McMahon Stadium for the first day of the camp Sunday. Photo by Darren Makowichuk/Calgary Sun

Ian Busby, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:20 AM ET

CALGARY - If the weather turns hot, and the practice pace gets even hotter, eventually pounds will come off.

Calgary isn’t exactly due for a blazing June, though.

So there is a chance Nik Lewis will open the CFL season ready to wallop opposing players with 240 lb. of muscle he’s packing right now.

This is an important season for Lewis, who celebrated his 30th birthday Sunday with the opening of his ninth CFL training camp.

In 2012, he can top the 10,000-yard mark — he needs just 768 yards, which would be a career low — but there is also something else to play for.

This is his option season on his contract, so there is the matter of pending free-agency.

So when Lewis showed up for training camp and went through the paces Sunday, he was his usual bowling-ball self thanks to an off-season that has him bulked up.

“I feel great. I feel slimmer. I feel strong,” Lewis said. “We changed the program a little bit this year. I did a lot more explosive stuff.

“We did a lot heavier weight for my shoulders and stuff like that. Taking the time off for two months to heal my knee and do the rehab really worked. I feel great right now. I feel really strong. I’m ready to go out and make it happen.”

Never before in Lewis’ career has he reached free-agency. His contract would usually get extended every year like clockwork.

The only thing that changed is Lewis would now like to be paid in the range of the top CFL receivers.

“Why not? Do you think I’m one of the top players in this league?” Lewis asked. “If I can show that (I am), then let it roll.

“It’s a business, and I understand how it works. If I perform like I have the past eight years, I will be a Stampeder for years to come.”

Some would argue Lewis isn’t one of the best receivers, but there is no arguing his consistency.

If he hits 1,000 yards this season, it would tie him with Milt Stegall for the league’s second-longest streak behind Terry Vaughn (11).

And once he gets to 10,000, he will be the 16th player in CFL history to do it, joining his old pal Jeremaine Copeland, who got over the mark last season before retiring.

“Cope did it last year, and it was big,” Lewis said. “I’m looking forward to reaching that plateau. It says a lot about a career.

“Recently, I was thinking about the average career being three years. Going on nine, it’s pretty special to be blessed to play as long as I have at a high level. I’m focused on playing a high level.”

Now 30, and with a lot of hard miles on his body, one could question how long a body can go with the punishment Lewis puts his through.

Hardly a play goes by where Lewis doesn’t collide with someone.

But Stamps receivers coach Pete Costanza saw a motivated and rejuvenated Nik Lewis on the first day of camp Sunday.

Costanza believes Lewis is about 5 lb. lighter than last season and a whole lot leaner.

“What losing a little weight will help him with is the wear and tear on his knees,” Costanza said. “For speed, whether Nik is 5 lb. heavier or not, he’s the same. He’s going to bang into you. He’s going to be Nik.”

With his relatively young age and consistency during his career, if Lewis did keep going for years on end, he could take a shot at what will eventually be Geroy Simon’s yardage record.

But he’s already planned his going away party.

“I’m calling four. If I feel like this four years from now, then we’ll see,” Lewis added. “It would be hard to walk away, unless I start playing golf like Tony Romo.”

ian.busby@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter: @SUNIanBusby


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