When the Pittsburgh Steelers signed Isaiah Lewis to a contract, they knew about his play at Michigan State. The one-time teammate of running back Le'Veon Bell was known for his hard-hitting style at the safety position. When given a chance with the Cincinnati Bengals in their training camp, he failed to make the roster and wasn't picked up by another team.
What's a young, athletic and hard-working young man to do in that situation? If you are Isaiah Lewis, you go and get a job at the local UPS shipping center.
"It sure isn't easy work. Those boxes can be heavy,'' Lewis told Mike Griffith of mlive.com. "We spend days unloading trailers, and there are thousands of boxes in there. The job has helped kept my mind at ease, and it's helped keep money in my pocket.
"We have a lot of hard-working people where I work. You meet some great down-to-earth people you can learn a lot from, so this has been a great experience.''
Lewis' work ethic at UPS might not translate into success in the NFL, but his belief in himself surely won't hurt.
"I guess what has kept me going is just my confidence in myself," Lewis said. "I can feel it. I know I can play at the next level, there's no doubt.''
When the Steelers brought Lewis in for a workout shortly after the New Year, they liked him enough to give him a shot at a roster spot, starting with offseason work this spring. Lewis considers it a second chance at his dream of playing in the NFL.
"This time, I'll do better than I did before," Lewis said, "and I'll show them why I should be playing at the highest level.
"It's going to do with how I perform when I get back up there. It's all about how I take things on and how quickly I can pick up the defense.''
The Steelers could use a hard-hitting player like Lewis in the back end of the secondary, but his best shot at making the 53-man roster will likely be through special teams.