OWINGS MILLS - Ray Lewis looked more like the Ray Lewis of old.
Critiqued in recent years for declining physical skills, the 37-year old Lewis was all over the field during the Baltimore Ravens' season-opening win against the Cincinnati Bengals.
He was a presence against the run, contributed as a blitzer and was even effective dropping into pass coverage, something he has been scrutinized for during the past several seasons.
Lewis finished Monday with a game-high 14 tackles while also recording a sack and a forced fumble.
Lewis dropped weight during the offseason - adjusting to what he said is becoming more of a passing league - and defensive coordinator Dean Pees was impressed with what he saw from a leaner Lewis.
"I thought he played really well," Pees said. "He made a couple good open field tackles. I thought he moved around pretty well. It looked like Ray."
Lewis reported to training camp in late July saying he was the lightest he had been to start a training camp during any of his 17 seasons in Baltimore.
Lewis weighed as much as 255 pounds during the course of last season, but entered training camp having trimmed down to about 235.
"It just feels good," Lewis said of playing at his current weight. "Running around feels awesome. I won't make too much about it. I like the way I feel right now. I like the way I am just getting around everything, and we'll just keep going from there."
And the weight loss hasn't made Lewis any less of a presence against the run. Nine of Lewis' 14 tackles against the Bengals came during a first half that Cincinnati looked to establish its running game with Benjarvus Green-Ellis. Five of his tackles stopped Green-Ellis for gains of three yards or less.
But a leaner Lewis was also noticeably more fluid and more effective in pass coverage than he has been in recent years.
He had tight coverage on Bengals tight end Jermaine Gresham during the second quarter, forcing an overthrow an overthrow from quarterback Andy Dalton as he tried to find Gresham in the end zone on a third-and-short from the Ravens' 16-yard line.
Lewis was matched up with Gresham again late in the third quarter, helping contribute to another errant throw from Dalton that Ravens safety Ed Reed intercepted and returned for a touchdown.
"He did really well [against Cincinnati]," Baltimore linebacker Josh Bynes said of Lewis. "Just like he's looked since he came back [for training camp], he's been looking a lot lighter, a lot faster, a lot quicker to the ball.
"His body's changed tremendously, and it seems like he's getting even better as he gets older."
Lewis's increased mobility will be put to the test this weekend, however, as the Ravens travel to face the Philadelphia Eagles and running back LeSean McCoy.
McCoy is one of the NFL's most dynamic backs.
He rushed for 1,309 yards and 17 touchdowns last year and had 110 yards on 22 carries in the Eagles' 17-16 win against the Cleveland Browns Sunday.
Lewis referred to McCoy as "compete back" with a Barry Sanders-like ability to produce big plays.
"You really have to cradle him," Lewis said. "You have to keep him in the box and make him play football inside those boxes, kind of where he doesn't want to be. But, he [does it all], catching the ball out of the backfield, catching the ball on screens, running inside and outside. So yeah, we have our hands full this week."