Mike McCarthy a Big Fan of What He Sees in Marcedes Lewis

The signing of Jimmy Graham may have drawn the headlines, but Marcedes Lewis could be even more important to the Packers in 2018.

The Packers under new general manager Brian Gutekunst made several splash moves in the offseason this year. Arguably the biggest of those were the signings of Jimmy Graham, and the maneuvering in the first round of the draft that allowed the Packers to get their preferred pick, CB Jaire Alexander, in addition to an additional 2019 first-round pick from the New Orleans Saints.

The team's pickup of Marcedes Lewis was generally lauded as being a solid move for the team, but certainly wasn't the headline-maker the previous two were. But as we saw with the Philadelphia Eagles last season, sometimes it's those veteran role player pickups that make all the difference between contending for and winning a championship.

At 33 years old (now 34), Marcedes Lewis remained one of the best run-blocking tight ends in the league in 2017 for the Jacksonville Jaguars, with whom he had spent his entire career until signing with Green Bay this offseason. Pro Football Focus graded Lewis as its top run-blocking tight end, and that was with a hefty sample size of 517 run-blocking snaps.

So far, it sure seems as though Lewis is impressing in camp.

"His ability to cut off and anchor on a block and maintain at the line of scrimmage has been impressive," said head coach Mike McCarthy in his press conference Thursday morning. "Frankly, we haven't really had that here with a man of his size and ability."

The Packers' tight end pursuits over the last several years are well-documented. For the most part, the Packers have looked for athletic playmakers at the tight end position in the mold of Jimmy Graham, Jared Cook and Jermichael Finley. The team brought in Martellus Bennett last year, expecting him to be a reliable receiving target and a strong presence in the run blocking game. Of course, that decision ended up being a disaster.

With the slow and inconsistent Richard Rodgers not being resigned this offseason and Bennett having left under dubious circumstances, the Packers needed some additional help at the tight end spot to complement Graham, who is just as likely to split out as a wide receiver as he is to put a hand in the dirt. Lance Kendricks produced some occasional highlights in 2017 but did not provide the sort of intensity in the run blocking game Lewis does. 

Considering the talent the Packers now have at the running back position in Aaron Jones, Ty Montgomery and Jamaal Williams, having a strong run-blocking tight end to pair with Graham opens up a lot of possibilities for the Packers' offense. Two- and even three-tight end sets are a realistic possibility this year. Lewis could also line up in the backfield with Aaron Ripkowski as a lead blocking tandem in a full house formation, something the Packers haven't used regularly in several seasons now.

So while Graham is much more likely to attract headlines and highlights for the Packers this season, the signing of Lewis could turn out to be equally important for the Packers in 2018.

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Tim Backes is a lifelong Packer fan and a contributor to CheeseheadTV. Follow him on Twitter @timbackes for his Packer takes, random musings and Untappd beer check-ins.

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Comments (13)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
I bleed green more's picture

August 02, 2018 at 03:33 pm

All I can say is are we there yet, wow I am so pumped the defenses have no clue what's coming.

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Qoojo's picture

August 02, 2018 at 03:45 pm

The Packers fans were nestled all snug in their couches,
While visions of 2011 offense danced in their heads;
And mamma in her ’kerchief, and I in my cheesehead,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s playoff run,...

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TheBigCheeze's picture

August 02, 2018 at 04:20 pm

....LAME......it's supposed to rhyme........

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Qoojo's picture

August 02, 2018 at 04:44 pm

You don't say? I guess I will spend more time on my next joke post so that I can meet your "lame" standards.

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The TKstinator's picture

August 04, 2018 at 07:25 am

Apparently, joke posts are serious business.

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Jonathan Spader's picture

August 02, 2018 at 03:45 pm

I'm wondering if Lewis can bring anything to the passing game having a chance to play with the best QB in the NFL instead of Bortles.

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Coldworld's picture

August 02, 2018 at 05:59 pm

He did last year when teams overlooked him.

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Tundraboy's picture

August 02, 2018 at 09:39 pm

Unless he's hurt or MM is all talk, absolutely.

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DraftHobbyist's picture

August 02, 2018 at 04:04 pm

You touched on it, but while I wouldn't put Lewis at the top of the top talent wise, we as a team have nobody else that can do what he can do. If Lewis goes down, our Offense changes. That makes Lewis important. I think Lewis is going to be quite surprised by how appreciated he becomes in Green Bay, because Packers fans definitely appreciate the type of player Marcedes Lewis is.

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Handsback's picture

August 02, 2018 at 04:33 pm

I mentioned somewhere that Lewis is one of 5 guys that the Packer's need this year. I believe that he opens a lot of the offense through his blocking and receiving.

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Packer Fan's picture

August 02, 2018 at 05:08 pm

We will see how ,Adams, Cobb and whoever the #3 receiver will work. If they struggle, you will see a lot more of Lewis.

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Lare's picture

August 02, 2018 at 05:22 pm

It appears that the Packers offense has a lot more weapons at their disposal this year than they have in years past. That really helps as it makes for a lot more that opposing defenses have to gameplan for.

Players like Lewis are especially beneficial as they provide multiple abilities. In his case both the blocking and receiving production.

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porupack's picture

August 03, 2018 at 08:03 am

Cautious optimism. We thought Bennett was to be an action hero come alive.
It took Cook till late in the season to become a real factor in Opposing D plannning.

But kudos to Gute for double dipping yet again after double dipping in 2017 in vet TEs, and for still keeping Kendricks even though he wasn't spectacular.
With 3 top-eschelon TEs, there is no doubt that GB sees the TE as its offensive prime x-factor that creates so much versatility and unpredictability. They invested in proven experience and paid accordingly (and smartly at below market prices).
Who knows which of Graham, Lewis or Kendricks may bust, or be over-rated, but GB is betting the odds on locking in 3 proven vets.

Very good chance Kendricks becomes much more of a weapon than just blocking as he is now in year 2 in the system.

I think the possibilities in innovation at the TE group is what excites me most looking forward the 2018 season.

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