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Patriots’ Dion Lewis ready for return to Heinz Field | TribLIVE.com
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Patriots’ Dion Lewis ready for return to Heinz Field

Tribune-Review
| Wednesday, December 13, 2017 7:33 p.m
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Getty Images
ORCHARD PARK, NY - DECEMBER 3: Dion Lewis #33 of the New England Patriots stiff arms Jordan Poyer #21 of the Buffalo Bills during the second quarter on December 3, 2017 at New Era Field in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
884917740
Getty Images
ORCHARD PARK, NY - DECEMBER 3: Dion Lewis #33 of the New England Patriots stiff arms Jordan Poyer #21 of the Buffalo Bills during the second quarter on December 3, 2017 at New Era Field in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

Imagine what must be running through the back of New England Patriots running back Dion Lewis’ mind that he doesn’t want to discuss.

His contract with the Patriots expires after this season, but he’s making a case for a new one by leading the team in rushing (607 yards) going into Sunday’s game against the Steelers.

Ask him about it, though, and he only says, “I’m just focused on getting ready for the Steelers.”

Then, there’s the amazing statistic he only laughs about, not wishing to explain it: The Patriots are 27-3 when he has been in the lineup over the past three seasons.

“We have a lot of great players here,” said Lewis, a former Pitt running back. “It’s not just me.”

Does he consider himself a good luck charm? Well, maybe.

“It’s always good to be a good luck charm,” he said. “I’ll take it. I just hope to keep winning.”

What Lewis isn’t afraid to talk about are his two years at Pitt.

“Pittsburgh will always have a place in my heart,” he said. “They were two of the best years of my life.”

Lewis played the final two seasons of the Dave Wannstedt era, rushing for 1,799 yards in 2009 — second in school history to Tony Dorsett — and 1,061 the following season.

He stays in touch with former teammates Jon Baldwin and Cam Saddler, labeling Saddler “a Pittsburgh legend.”

When Lewis touches the ball Sunday — and you can bet it will be in the Patriots’ run and pass games — it will be his first at Heinz Field since he left after the 2010 season.

Drafted in the fifth round by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2011, he didn’t get a carry or a catch in a 16-14 loss to the Steelers in 2012. He has been released twice — within 17 days by the Cleveland Browns and Philadelphia Eagles ­— and suffered through serious leg and knee injuries.

But he won a Super Bowl ring with the Patriots last year, and now has a bigger role in the offense, with LeGarett Blount playing for the Eagles.

He also shrugs off the Patriots’ loss to the Miami Dolphins on Monday night. No extra sense of urgency or concern about the possibility of the home-field advantage in the playoffs slipping away.

“Everybody is coming to work as usual,” he said. “We definitely have to get back to executing better.

“Every time we have a game, we zero in on that opponent. When we do that, we’re a tough team to beat.”

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