Lewis Neal doesn’t pass the eye test of an NFL defensive lineman. He stands at 6-foot, 280 pounds.
“I’m strong, though,” Lewis said.
Yes, Lewis is – he set LSU’s power clean record at 391 pounds his senior season – and he hopes that strength serves him well now that he’s officially an NFL player. The Dallas Cowboys brought Neal up from the practice squad to fill Brian Price’s roster spot.
Price was hurt in Sunday’s game against the Chiefs, underwent surgery on his knee and was placed on the injured reserve list. Neal has been waiting for his chance and the undrafted rookie finally gets it this week.
“It’s a blessing because it’s my dream,” Neal said. “Dream come true. So just continue what I’ve been doing from this point on forward.”
Neal had 15 sacks his final two seasons at LSU, but his size kept him off most draft boards. He got a chance with the Cowboys and impressed enough in training camp to land a spot on the practice squad.
Neal had been considered for a promotion to the 53-man roster when starter Stephen Paea retired last month, but the Cowboys went with Richard Ash. Now it’s Neal’s turn. He has stayed positive throughout.
“I’ve been through adversity all my life, man, dealing with being called undersized – I’ve been dealing with that all my life,” Neal said. “I’ve overcome it at every level of the game, so it’s nothing new to me. Just keep working.”
Said coach Jason Garrett: “He’s a smaller guy, but he’s strong and plays with good quickness and explosiveness and good leverage. So he’ll be part of that mix inside.”