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Thursday practice report

"Lights on."

That's the phrase Northern Illinois wide receiver Marcus Lewis loves to use when it's time for him to make a play.

"I usually say that," Lewis said. "When the lights turn on, that's when I make the big plays."

In spring practice, Lewis, a senior, has been one of the most improved players in the eyes of the coaches, and Lewis feels the light has come on for him this spring.

That was evident at this morning's practice when Lewis made what was arguably the best catch of the spring, going up to get a deep pass and reeling it in mostly with one hand. He hasn't made catches like that every practice – he's also included a few drops – but more often than not this spring he's made an impressive catch once a practice.

Lewis has noticed a few big differences from this spring compared to years past.

"I would say the confidence that the coaches and the football team have in me," Lewis said. "I think that the quarterbacks look to me more to make big plays. That was different from before."

The big question, and one that Lewis won't be able to answer until the fall, is can he keep it going? Lewis has been a backup his entire career, but now has as big a window as ever to bust out and see significant playing time. Saturday's final spring practice will be Lewis' last chance to show the coaches what he can do. Look for a preview of Saturday's spring game in tomorrow's Daily Chronicle.

NIU had the scoreboard and game clock on at this morning's practice at Huskie Stadium. The opponent on the scoreboard? Navy, which defeated the Huskies in their final home game of 2008.

With a swirling wind at Huskie Stadium this morning, the kickers also got plenty of chances to kick long field goals. Most chances by kickers Mike Salerno and Steve Ivanisevic had the distance but went wide.

Come back later today for a video interview with defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys.

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