The Jets running game is as strong as it's been all season — ranked No. 1 through 13 weeks — and one practice squad member is thrilled to be affiliated with it.
"The running game is by far the best I've been a part of," said fullback Jason Davis, who's also spent time with the Bears, Raiders and Eagles. "We're adamant about running the ball. We have an attitude about running the ball. It makes the team tough as a whole."
That toughness is something that 15-year veteran Tony Richardson has exemplified throughout his career. Learning from a player who has blocked for four Pro Bowl rushers and for eight 1,000-yard seasons — including Thomas Jones (twice) as TJ just reached 1,000 during last Thursday's win over the Buffalo Bills — has been a great experience for Davis.
"I sit by Tony Richardson in every meeting," said Davis. "I'm pretty much attached to his hip because if you want to be a good fullback in this league, as I aspire to be, why not learn from the best that ever did it? It's just a blessing to have him there every day and ask questions. He's open to helping. That's a great thing, too."
Davis played his college ball at Illinois, leading the way for current Saints running back Pierre Thomas. He was the team's second-leading receiver in his junior year, catching 41 passes for 340 yards, and totaled 70 receptions, 644 yards and five TDs during his time with the Fighting Illini. It's fitting that Davis' only NFL statistic is a 12-yard reception that he grabbed as a member of the Bears.
The 5'10", 242-pounder is in his second NFL season and was signed to the Jets practice squad Sept. 8 after being claimed off waivers from Chicago two days earlier. He split time last season with the Bears and Raiders, playing in six games with three starts.
Originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the Eagles in 2006, Davis spent that season on injured reserve, joined the Eagles practice squad in '07, then was waived after their '08 training camp.
The St. Louis native has noticed a huge difference in apporach here with the Green & White.
"There wasn't a commitment to the run game like there is in New York," he said of his other stops. "We're determined to run the ball. With the coach we have and the defense we have, it's perfect."
That's something that a fullback who leads the way in practice for some talented RBs — TJ, Shonn Greene, Danny Woodhead — can get used to.
"It's the attitude I like being a fullback," he said. "Everybody wants to be cute and run a spread offense. Everyone wants to throw the ball. Eventually, even with a spread offense, you're going to have to get those tough yards. We're just equipped to do that. We just let people know, 'Hey, we're going to run it and what are you going to do to stop it?' "
Being on the practice squad can be discouraging to some who want the opportunity to perform on gameday, but Davis has a different outlook on things.
"You're always one play away, especially at the fullback position," he said. "On a lot of teams, there is just one, if any. It happened with me last year in Chicago. The fullback went down and I had to jump into the starting role. If I didn't have guys like Tony Richardson or Thomas Jones on the practice squad in Chicago saying 'Prepare like you're the starter,' I wouldn't have been ready."
That's an attitude that's sure to be admired by other practice squad members.
"Just keep fighting," Davis said. "TJ taught me how to watch film. You could sit there and just watch plays and rewind it and not look at the right things. That's something I'm going to be able to take for my entire career."