Saints' Tommylee Lewis accomplishes a first in Sean Payton era

Tommylee Lewis caught a 2-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter on Thursday. Ron Schwane/AP

Tommylee Lewis was one of the breakout stars of New Orleans Saints camp last summer, forcing his way onto the roster as an undrafted, 5-foot-7, 168-pound rookie out of Northern Illinois.

Well, the dynamic receiver/return man has already done more through one preseason game this year than he did in all four games combined last year.

Lewis caught 10 passes for 124 yards in Thursday night's 20-14 loss to the Cleveland Browns, including a 2-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Nassib and a diving 32-yard catch from Garrett Grayson.

Lewis' 10 catches were the most by any Saints receiver in a preseason game in the Sean Payton era.

"I'm just more comfortable. I came out in a zone, feeling good," Lewis told reporters after the game. "I just feel like we work so hard, we work too hard not to come out here and have fun. That was my mindset, just come out here and have fun. Let the plays make themselves."

Lewis said he and Grayson "kind of winked at each other" coming out of the huddle before his dazzling catch.

"We kind of have a connection going through practice, so he kind of winked at me, I winked at him," Lewis said. "And he gave me a shot to go get it, and I just laid out, went and got it."

Lewis was a great story last summer. Payton admitted that he was "not on the radar, like, at all" heading into the draft until he was recommended by their shared mentor, Bill Parcells.

"Obviously I trust Bill quite a bit and value so many different things. So when he has a guy like that you're talking about signing as a free agent, I'm like, 'Yeah,'" Payton said last year.

Lewis wound up as the Saints' leading return man, with 14 punt returns (including a 59-yarder) and eight kickoff returns.

However, Lewis didn't play a significant role on offense, with just seven catches for 76 yards, three rushes for 11 yards and zero touchdowns in 12 games played.

It's hard to expect much more of an opportunity for him this year, since he's still stuck below Michael Thomas, Willie Snead, Ted Ginn Jr. and Brandon Coleman in the current pecking order. (Coleman is also having a terrific training camp).

But at the very least, Lewis appears to be putting himself in a prime position to get the call if any of those guys is injured or goes into a prolonged slump.

Or maybe he'll just force the Saints to draw up a few extra plays for him if he keeps doing things that have never been done before in the preseason.