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Muscled Up Davis Fit for the Run

Posted Jun 7, 2013

The NFL is a passing league and coverage has always been second nature for Demario Davis.  But the most challenging NFL adjustment for Davis was playing the run.

“I’m pretty natural in coverage.  Not to boast or anything, it was just one of those things that I was natural at when I came into college,” he told me on a recent “Jets Talk LIVE” installment.  “The thing I struggled with was run fits and playing the run.” 

Davis, who started three games at linebacker in 2012, was used heavily in coverage roles in sub packages as a rookie. 

“I’ve been playing the spread most of my life, so coverage is natural for me.  I can get out there and run and it’s not just about speed,” said the Arkansas State product, a third-round pick of the Jets in 2012.  “It’s about knowing where to be and how to get to the ball and when the ball goes up.  Coverage— especially man-to-man — is like playing backyard football.  You’ve been doing that since you were a little kid, so I’m pretty natural at that.”

The Jets will count on Davis in a big way this season.  After releasing Bart Scott, the Green & White turned to Davis at the inside linebacker position next to David Harris.  The 6’2”, 239-pound Davis hit the weight room hard in the offseason and has noticeably added a lot of muscle.

“It’s easy to see what you have to do.  The thing is you want to make sure you’re physically adept to hold those gaps,” he said.  “If you’re a little light in the butt, it’s easy to get moved out of the gap once you get to the right place.” 

New Jets linebackers coach Brian VanGorder is helping Davis and the ‘backers with their pre-snap alignments.   The quicker the path to the ball, the more plays defenders will make.

“If you put yourself in the right position, you can get to the ball a lot better, a lot quicker and you can prevent yourself from getting tied up with offensive linemen and stuff like that,” Davis said.  “I’m looking forward to when we put the pads on and see what those run fits look like.”

In Harris, Davis has an inside partner who excels against the run and also serves as an additional coach on the field.

“David’s my guy.  I definitely love playing beside him,” Davis said.  “The thing with David is he is so smart and he really is the quarterback of the defense.  You hear him out there and he’s making so many checks, making sure all the guys line up.  He’s very good at taking care of the defensive line and making sure those guys are right.  Just having confidence beside him that he’s going to make all the right calls makes it a lot easier for you, for your few checks to make those and get lined up.”

Davis is a young player loaded with intangibles.  His leadership qualities have stood out since Day 1 and the second-year pro sees a team with a number of veterans holding each other accountable.

“As a linebacker, you are always going to be a leader on the defense.  But we have a great cast of guys who are leading.  It’s not just one person who is leading,” he said.  “We have got guys on the team who have really taken hold of the team — guys like D’Brickashaw, Dave, Cromartie and Mangold — guys who are saying, ‘This is our team.  It ain’t about the coaches — it’s about us.’  If it’s our team, we have to take ownership of it and those guys are stepping up and making it known that this is the standard.”

Davis looks and sounds like a man who is ready to step up. 

“I wanted to be stronger and have more of a body presence in the run game,” he said.  “Getting ready to go in on those fits, I wanted to be a little bit stronger.  So I really attacked the weight room this offseason and it’s looking good.  Faster and stronger is what it’s about.”

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