Cam Lewis isn’t where he thought he’d be.
“To be completely honest with you, I didn’t even think I was going to make it to the NFL,” Lewis admitted. “The NFL wasn’t even on my radar my first two years. I think my junior year was when I really decided, well, I’m going to at least try and you know five years later I’m still here.
Lewis’ professional path was a challenging test of perseverance.
He signed with the Bills as an undrafted free agent in 2019, landing on the practice squad throughout the season. PS was where he started the 2020 campaign, but he found his way onto the active roster for five games, two of which he started. PS’s third round was where 2021 began, but Lewis once again worked his way through seven games, starting one.
Then finally, in 2022, he cemented a spot on the 53-man roster, playing 13 games with one start. And this season he played in 14 games.
“A lot of ups and downs, but it’s been good,” Lewis said. “I feel like I wouldn’t have it any other way. I feel like I was made for this path that God put me on.
A path that has seen Lewis play every spot in the secondary to work his way up to a mainstay on special teams.
“I’m just trying to find ways to make the most of my opportunities and make plays,” Lewis said. “I’m just trying to stick around because this league can spit you out real quick. You get here one second and the next minute you’re gone, so you’re just trying to find a way. I keep saying it, just trying to stay and make the most of my opportunities.
Over the course of five years, opportunities came in different ways for Louis. Of his four career starts, one came at outside corner, two at nickel and one at safety. The truest definition of what the Bills preach strongly – flexibility of position.
“It was tough to be honest with you,” Lewis said. “It was hard. I always wanted to be great at one thing. When I was in college, I just played the outside corner, so I drilled, drilled, drilled the outside corner, and that was the area I tried to be good at. Then they moved me inside and I just tried to break through, break through this. I just try to be everywhere. I wouldn’t say I try to be good everywhere and occasionally great sometimes. I’m trying to go out there and be great, but it’s been tough… It’s a lot to take in, but I feel like I was the right person for it and I feel like I’ve improved myself as well.”
Lewis says he navigated the entire move by watching and listening a lot to the veterans around him, crediting Tre’Davious White, Taron Johnson, Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer for helping guide him every step of the way .
“He reminds me a lot of myself when I first came into the league,” Poyer said. “He just fights and grabs every opportunity and then just takes every opportunity every time he gets one.”
“I’ve seen it in practice,” Johnson added. “I always thought he was a good player when he came here. I am happy that now he has the opportunity to show it. He could always cover. He could always do well.”
The move to safety came late in training camp a year ago, with Lewis seeing it as simply another survival move.
It wasn’t an easy transition, headlined by Justin Jefferson’s incredible catch over Lewis last season.
But Lewis believes he continues to improve in the position – and Sean McDermott agrees.
“The mentality that Cam has, he’s one of our mentally tougher players and I think he learned from that game,” McDermott said. “That was just early in his career as an NFL quarterback. You watched him this past weekend, rushing kickoffs and hitting the way he hits. He’s just one of our more physically and mentally fit players.”
Is safety where Lewis hopes to stay? As you’d expect, he thinks his preferences really don’t matter.
“I’m what you want me to be,” Lewis said with a laugh. “What you want me to be. Since this is my second year playing it, I’ve grown to like the position. But I feel like my first love is the nickel. I feel like I’m really good at that, but I’m also really good at safety. It’s just a different perspective. You just have to see it all. You have to see what your corners are doing, what your inside guys are doing and read the quarterback. It’s very different from what I’m used to, but I guess you could just classify me as a DB. Everything I need to do, I can do on the back end.”