Updated, 2:10 p.m. ET
No need to worry about Demario Davis getting back into the swing of things, easing into a new leadership role, feeling his way. Double-D’s already got his focus locked onto the job ahead like a laser.
“We’ve got a lot of young guys, a lot of energy, a lot of athletic ability and speed,” Davis told me at the Atlantic Health Training Complex during a Phase 2 session of the Jets’ offseason strength and conditioning program. “The main thing is just all of us learning what to do, learning the best we can, understanding the concepts of the defense and being in harmony with a lot of communication, everybody being on the same page. We can be very effective. I’m very excited what this group of guys can potentially do.”
But surely every player and every team in the NFL has some extra energy at this time on the calendar?
“It’s not just regular energy. It’s a special energy,” Davis said, deadly serious. “There are some very big things, I think, about to take place, and I’m not just saying that because I’m a part of this unit. I’ve just got a feeling that some special things are about to occur. I’m not feeding into the negative being talked about. I view it, I see it every day. I know the pieces are aligning and the stars are aligning for a very big year of the Jets.”
Wow. An impressive take on these Jets. But with all of the comings and goings under new GM John Idzik, with all the work that must be done to come back from last year’s campaign, might that be a little on the optimistic side?
Davis doesn’t see it that way. The second-year linebacker’s laser is scanning his role for the coming season, and he sees great prospects for himself and his teammates.
“My approach is the same as always. It’s to get better every day, go out and be ready to contribute as much as possible,” he said. “I know my coaches are looking for me to step into that starting role and for me to be a leader. Coach Ryan’s personally issued the challenge, in front of the defense, so it’s all about me stepping up and taking advantage of that and making the most of that opportunity.”
Davis isn’t speaking out of school. The mantra under Idzik has been “competition, through and through,” so no one has a clear path to a starting gig and gobs of playing time yet. Leadership is a funny thing that doesn’t just happen. Yet head coach Rex Ryan was equally optimistic for Davis during the March conference call with Jets season ticket holders.
“Right now Demario’s the No. 1 Will linebacker on our depth chart,” Ryan said. “As John has talked about several times, you try to bring in as much competition as you possibly can, but clearly Demario is a guy that we feel really good about, we felt great about drafting him last year and he’s a guy that’s going to play a ton of football for us.”
Coming in as the third-round pick out of Arkansas State last season, Davis quickly racked up playing time. He was on the field for 371 special-teams plays, the most on the Jets, and 680 plays in all, 10th-most among defensive players and 18th on the team. He got his most action on defense late in the first half of the season, at New England and home for Miami, as Bart Scott worked on his injured toe, but outside of those two games averaged a little more than a dozen snaps a game.
This year it’s time to increase the reps under new coordinator Dennis Thurman, whom Davis met with at the start of the offseason program.
“I asked him when camp started what he wanted out of me. To be very specific, he said he wanted me to be able to fix my eyes, have a great understanding of eyes and concepts, to be physical and be a three-down linebacker,” Davis said. “He also issued the challenge of just understanding coverage at my position. So those are the big things I’ve been working on, focusing on, studying film, studying the game, being in the weightroom every day.
“I don’t think I can be more prepared for taking this opportunity than I am right now with the work I put in to this point, physically and mentally,” he said. “You can never have the attitude that you’re great. You always have to have the attitude that you’re just good. That keeps you working. You always have something to chase after.”
Davis is ready for the chase. And he’s planning on his laser helping to guide the Jets for the challenging season ahead.
Weeb Would’ve Been CVI Today
Happy birthday to Weeb Ewbank, the great Jets head coach who would have celebrated his 106th birthday today. Weeb, of course, died at the age of 91 in 1998, but memories of his teams linger on — the NFL championships won by his Baltimore Colts in 1958 and ’59, and that grand January day 44 years ago when his Jets beat his former Colts, 16-7, in Super Bowl III. He was the first Jet inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, in 1978, and was in the inaugural class of the New York Jets Ring of Honor in 2010.
Tags: Bart Scott, Demario Davis, Dennis Thurman, Rex Ryan, Weeb Ewbank
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