Dawkins, Lewis energize teams through emotion

BY foxsports • October 29, 2009

Brian Dawkins fires up his teammates with frenzied and feverish dance moves before games. So does Ray Lewis. The Denver Broncos safety sets the tone on the field through big plays and bone-rattling hits. Same with the Baltimore Ravens linebacker. Dawkins and Lewis are made from a similar mold - two highly intense players who thrive on always being in the middle of things. Every elite defense needs one. "Definitely helps," Champ Bailey said. "You need some kind of presence, whether it's loud or not. The coaches can only say so much." Lewis is the heart of the Ravens defense, giving it a big slice of nastiness. He's the face of a ferocious squad that's long been considered one of the gold standards, especially at home. Since 2003, the Ravens have allowed the fewest yards (270.2) and had the most interceptions (80) at home in the league. Dawkins provides the soul for Denver's squad, helping transform the Broncos from a hapless unit into one of the league's top squads in just a season. He plays with a spirited energy, the same kind of passion he brought to Philadelphia for 13 seasons before signing with Denver last February. "The game is not played any purer than by men like him," said Lewis, whose team hosts the undefeated Broncos on Sunday. "I enjoy sitting back and watching him play football because of his passion." Funny, that's what Dawkins admires about Lewis as well. "You can count on him year-in and year-out to give everything to the last drop," Dawkins said. "There's always been a nasty element to that defense. A lot of that is from what he brings to the table." Part of what Lewis brings to the field he picked up from Broncos defensive coordinator Mike Nolan. Lewis was the 2003 defensive player of the year under the tutelage of Nolan, who served three seasons as the defensive boss in Baltimore. Even looking at Denver's defense from a distance, Lewis can still see Nolan's fingerprints all over this revamped squad. "They are playing with a certain attitude," Lewis said. "That's the only way you can play. They fly to the football and have fun doing it." Dawkins definitely helps in that department. Quiet and reserved all week, Dawkins flips a switch and brings out his alter ego on game days, turning into an energetic player who can hardly contain himself as he runs out for pregame introductions. He shakes and shimmies when he comes out of the tunnel, and maintains that fervor until the final whistle. That's why Broncos coach Josh McDaniels placed a priority on adding Dawkins, banking on the veteran's wisdom and energy. His spirit has been infectious since his arrival. "He plays with such intensity and love for the game," Broncos rookie safety Darcel McBath said. "You can see it in every play. He plays so hard every play." The 36-year-old Dawkins shows no signs of slowing down, either. "He flies around like it's his first year in the league," McBath marveled. With age, though, come the occasional nagging aches and pains. Dawkins tweaked his hamstring in a recent win over San Diego, but the bye week gave him time to heal and he is hopeful he'll be ready Sunday. "Feel great, feel great," said Dawkins, who was on the turf Thursday as the team moved practice indoors after the Mile High City was blanketed with nearly a foot of snow. As for his exuberance, Dawkins said it simply cannot be contained. "Emotions should be a part of the game," he said. "The thing about emotion is you have to be able to control it. You can't just show emotion and be all over the place. You have to still be able to be functional." Both Dawkins and Lewis harness and feed off emotion. That passion has become their calling cards. "Every time I see Dawk, we just smile and hug each other because there is a certain level of respect that we have between each other," Lewis said. "He's one of the classiest people I probably have ever met." Dawkins returned the compliment. "Love him, love the energy that he brings," Dawkins said. As for Dawkins simply being the Broncos' equivalent of the fiery Lewis, Bailey disputed that notion. "Nah, he's our Brian Dawkins," Bailey said. ---



share story