Dallas Lewallen: It feels normal. It feels good. I've worked hard to get back. My first spring game I hurt my patella. I had problems with it not being stable. There were other instances where it was giving me trouble. I don't remember the exact dates, but I had major surgery to fix it, repair it and make it stronger. That's what set me out for my redshirt freshman year.
I haven't really thought of it too much in terms of reminiscing or thinking about the past of being injured. I just go out there and play. It feels good to be out there. I am just trying to stay healthy.
Last year you weren't healthy as you wanted to be and you had transition on the offensive line that made it hard to develop consistently. What was that year like for you?
Lewallen: For me it was all about working and getting back. Unfortunately I wasn't ready at the end of the year. I wanted to be ready. Once I got back to full go in practice, I was just trying to work and help the team in the backup role that I was in. Overall it was a good year because we won a championship. I can't be upset with that.
What was winter conditioning like for you knowing that there was going to be vacancies on the offensive line, especially if you were healthy? How did you prepare yourself to be that guy?
Lewallen: I just used what you said as motivation. I had the mindset that you have to work hard and work harder than the next guy to try and earn that spot. That's pretty much all I did. I worked my butt off every day to put myself in position to start.
How did strength yourself, especially now that you had a healthy body you were working with?
Lewallen: Obviously all the stuff we did in the weight together as an offensive line and as a team bettered my situation. I just tried to work on extra strengthening with my leg. I did a lot of preventive stuff to make sure nothing would happen with that injury wise.
How has new strength coach Evan Simon's ‘prehab' benefited a guy like you who has had injury problems in the past?
Lewallen: Coach Simon is great. All the stuff he has us do helps. Prehab is great for me. You can never get enough of that stuff. I work a lot on prehab stuff and the trainers have been great about helping me.
What's been the big strides you have made from practice one to practice 15?
Lewallen: I would say consistency has been the big thing for me. My biggest thing was a lack of reps, not being full-go my whole career here. I have missed out on a lot of reps and spring ball is a great time to get as many reps as you can. That's probably helped me the most in trying to be consistent with my overall game.
A lot was made of the offensive line not having a lot of healthy bodies in camp this spring but that probably was a huge benefit for you. Not only did you get a lot of reps, you probably enjoyed working at both left guard and left tackle?
Lewallen: I didn't look at it as a bad thing. I never complained about it. It was a blessing. It was good for me and good for younger guys who haven't been in a starting role before to get more reps. It's not a good thing that guys were out, but it was a good thing that it was in spring ball and that a lot of guys improved with the new offense and the new coaches trying to teach things that are different.
Where are you more comfortable right now: left tackle or left guard?
Lewallen: I would say it's pretty similar. I feel comfortable working both spots. I am just trying to be as consistent at both of them in case anything would happen where I need to be available to play either spot.
Considering what you have been through the last couple years, what would it mean to you if you started the season as a starter?
Lewallen: To be honest, my mindset is just to take it a day at a time. The things I have been through, I think it's best not to look ahead because you never know what's going to happen the next day. To look ahead like that, it would be a great feeling. I just have to keep working hard, working on technique, pad level and all those things you need to be good at to be an offensive lineman.