Cam Lewis was already pretty familiar with playing at Bills Stadium before he got into his first NFL game there last Sunday.
As a graduate of the UB football program, Lewis participated in spring workouts in Buffalo the last few years.
His near future could also be filled with games in that building.
The Detroit native was signed to the Bills 53-man roster on Thursday. It’s his first spot on an NFL roster. He was signed as an undrafted free agent after the 2019 draft and spent all of last year on the Bills practice squad.
Lewis feels lucky that his college and pro career have, so far, been played in the same city. The locale isn’t the only thing the UB Bulls and the Bills have in common.
“It’s just like being at UB,” Lewis said about playing for the Bills. “Got the family atmosphere, the culture. It’s just like another brotherhood.”
The UB to pro football path is getting fairly worn lately. Lewis is the 4th former Bull to make a current NFL roster.
“Coach (Lance) Leipold brings in real tough guys that want to earn everything,” Lewis said. “We’re really not that known, but we’re getting there. We’re going to work for everything that we want. A grinding mentality is how we operate.”
Lewis admitted he tried to take a moment to appreciate his NFL debut and his new contract as part of a 53-man roster, but believes he needs to stay focused on his new job.
Fortunately, mom has enough appreciation for the both of them.
“She always celebrates the small wins because you never know what happens in life,” Lewis said. It’s hard for me to celebrate the hard wins, so I guess she celebrates them for me. I just try to stay on a narrow path and do what I gotta do, day in and day out.”
The new Bills corner calls Levi Wallace and Taron Johnson his mentors on the team, though he’s thankful that the entire organization is a group of mentors. He tries to be constantly in the ear of any veteran who will listen.
“They really care about your development as a player and as a man, off the field,” Lewis said.
As a fellow undrafted free agent, Wallace was the one who really showed Lewis the ropes and how to stick on an NFL roster. Wallace may need to consider coaching as a second career because his work with Lewis is turning heads.
“Since he’s got here, he’s been a guy everyone’s noticed making plays on and off the field,” Bills safety Micah Hyde said. “In the meeting rooms, he’s answering questions with confidence. That’s big as a young guy. Coach singles you out in a meeting room and you’re able to answer those questions quick… a lot of guys pay attention to that.”
Lewis didn’t think he was NFL material, even after landing at UB. He talked with family about it often. After his junior year, that opinion did a 180.
“I had a decent junior year season, but I had a lot of injuries. Going into that summer, it just really clicked. ‘Ok, yeah. I can probably really do this’,” Lewis said. “I was ready to put my head down and try to grind for it.”
As a Detroit kid, Lewis says he learned early the only way to succeed in life was hard work. Even after making it on the Bills 53-man roster, that hard work can’t lessen.
Josh Norman is on injured reserve and will miss at least the next two games. At some point, he will get healthy. The Bills didn’t pay him six million dollars to sit behind an undrafted rookie.
Lewis may have a very limited shot as an active player on gameday. He needs to make the most of it.
“The grind doesn’t stop,” he said. “You get to the 53, but you gotta put in ten more times the work.”