Saints wide receiver Tommylee Lewis keeps defying odds in quest to stick in the NFL

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CLEVELAND — As an undrafted rookie out of Northern Illinois, Tommylee Lewis roused the Saints in the preseason and eventually made the 53-man roster in 2016.

Now, the diminutive wide receiver isn’t a lock to make this year’s roster, but he certainly helped his stock Thursday in the Saints’ first preseason game.

On Thursday, Lewis, a native of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., caught 10 passes for a game-high 124 yards in the 20-14 loss by New Orleans to the Cleveland Browns.

“Yeah man, it is a blessing,” Lewis said after the game. “I want to give thanks to God — the man up top. He let me come out and use my abilities to the best of my ability and just come out and just produce.”

Lewis’ most momentous play Thursday came in the third quarter.

On third-and-six at Cleveland’s 35-yard line, quarterback Garrett Grayson threw a deep ball toward Lewis deep down the sideline near the end zone. Lewis dove and held onto the ball to record a spectacular 32-yard reception for his longest play of the night.

“Coming out of the huddle, (Grayson and I) kind of winked at each other,” Lewis said. “(We’ve) always had a connection, even at practice. So he winked at me, I winked at him, and he gave me a shot to go get it, and I just laid out and went and got it.”

In the fourth quarter, Lewis grabbed a two-yard touchdown reception on Ryan Nassib’s short pass into the end zone. The touchdown allowed the Saints to regain the lead late in the fourth quarter, but Cleveland responded with two unanswered touchdowns to rally for the victory.

On the Saints depth chart, Lewis is behind Michael Thomas, Ted Ginn Jr., Willie Snead IV and Brandon Coleman, who has been very impressive in training camp. There may be one more spot available on the 53-man roster.

Lewis will need a dominant preseason to have a shot to convince his coaches that he should be part of the squad in the regular season

“I mean, it’s just one game, so it’s a whole bunch of stuff out there on film to clean up — a whole bunch of bad stuff I did out there,” Lewis said about needing a night like Thursday to stand out in the wide receiver competition. “So it’s not like — yeah, I made some plays, but at the same time, it’s a whole bunch of little stuff I need to correct if I want to take the next step.”

Lewis realizes every chance to stand out in a battle to make an NFL roster is precious, so he isn’t taking anything for granted.

“You only get but so many opportunities, so you got to take it and run with it when you get a chance to make a play,” he said. “You have to take advantage of it.”

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