"A lot of times, you hear, 'He's a student of the game, and he watches film.' But a lot of times, it's not really true," Johnson said. "Ray is ridiculous about how much [of] a student of the game he is. He comes in [Wednesday] morning already telling us what [the Buccaneers are] doing."
His dedication to watching film was tested this week. Because he was handing out turkeys Tuesday, he didn't start breaking down Tampa Bay until late.
"When I got home, I turned on the computer and fell asleep watching it," Lewis said. "That's the normal routine."
An older Lewis is not just smarter. He says he's stronger. It was only last season when Lewis' hit broke the shoulder of Pittsburgh running back Rashard Mendenhall.
When he takes the field Sunday, he'll be chasing Tampa Bay running back LeGarrette Blount, who is 12 years younger than the Ravens linebacker. Some would say Lewis is at a disadvantage. Lewis says it's the other way around.
"You look at it and say, 'This guy is 12 years younger.' I'm saying my body is 12 years more developed," Lewis said. "I'm running and hitting these little kids, and I know they're not going to deal with 60 minutes of this."
No end in sight
There will be a time when Lewis will leave the football field. But he says he'll never leave Baltimore.
"I got a true vision to clean up Baltimore," he said. "I want us to go away from being rated the No. 2 murder capital of the world and become a place where people are comfortable coming here and not worry about this craziness."
Lewis, who lived in Florida and played college football at Miami, is rooted in the Baltimore community.
He runs the Ray Lewis Foundation, which provides financial help to disadvantaged youth. He has fed more than 4,000 families the past decade at his Thanksgiving event. He held boot camp fitness sessions for Baltimore City police officers and members of a local homeless shelter last year. He is also building a bowling lane and entertainment complex at Hunt Valley Towne Centre.
To honor his contributions, the city renamed a section of North Avenue as "Ray Lewis Way" six months ago.
"It's a blessing that he has the heart to do all of this for a community," Pamela Johnson said after being handed a turkey from Lewis.
But trying to predict when Lewis will retire is as futile as trying to run past him.
In August 2002, the Ravens signed Lewis to a seven-year, $50 million contract that many said would allow him to end his career with the team. Seven years later, Lewis was agreeing to another seven-year contract with $15.5 million guaranteed.
"He surpassed the draft position [26th overall in 1996]. He surpassed the longevity of being a great player," Newsome said. "When you put limitations on Ray, he surpasses them all. I'm beyond what Ray Lewis can and can't do. He just keeps going. I'm just amazed."
For Lewis, the future is now.
"I don't look past tomorrow," he said. "That's my message — not just to football players, but people in general. We rush to tomorrow so quickly, we forget about living in today. Right now it's about today, and right now we're 7-3 and sit in a heck of a position. And I've got a heck of a team on my shoulders."