It would be hard to argue that anybody had a more impressive first day at rookie minicamp than Demario Davis, but he took the modest approach.
"It wasn't too bad. I've been reviewing the plays ever since I visited with Coach the first time and I talked to him over the phone, so I kind of got a jumpstart to learning a lot of the plays," Davis said during a live chat with fans on newyorkjets.com today. "I made a few mistakes, but it was OK."
Davis, the third-round pick out of Arkansas State who is expected to back up Bart Scott at the Will linebacker, earned high praised from Rex Ryan after just one workout. He sees leadership qualities in the 6'2", 235-pounder that had him referring back to Ray Lewis.
"When I got there, Ray was clearly the leader," said Ryan, the former Ravens defensive coordinator. "It's strange, but what kind of motivator is Ray Lewis? Ray Lewis motivated me as a coach. It's rare for a player to do that, to have that kind of ability. And I'm not saying Demario's that guy and there's only one Ray Lewis.
"But it's interesting, his face, mannerisms and passion. I see some things and when you watch him the tape, he pops off the tape. He reminds me of a young Bart Scott, a guy that's just full of energy, flying all over the place and couldn't wait to hit somebody."
There was no hitting today at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center as players suited up in helmets and shorts. Davis is known for his athleticism, but today's first workout was heavy on instruction and light on contact.
"There's always something you can get better at. I'd say pad level. You always want to play low," said Davis when asked where he'd like to improve as he makes his pro transition. "You always want to be an efficient tackler, so working on the fundamentals of tackling.
"The defense we have is a part to the whole defense, so you want to learn the parts. I want to be totally effective and efficient in learning the parts of the defense so when my coach asks me to do one thing, if it comes up in another play, I can do the exact same thing the exact same way as efficiently as possible."
Davis, a weakside 'backer in the Red Wolves' 4-3 and 4-2 alignments, finished his college career with 230 tackles, including 22.5 stops for loss, seven sacks, five forced fumbles and four interceptions. He will add speed to the Jets D — he was clocked at 4.52 in the 40 at his pro day.
"My greatest strength I would probably say is my speed, just running ability," he said. "Being able to run to the ball and get to the ball."
Pattering his approach after Lawrence Taylor and Ray Lewis, Davis wants to become a difference maker on the next level.
"I try to imitate or be a combination of those two and kind of spin my game off those two — the leadership of Ray and the discipline and passion he plays the game with, the havoc that Lawrence Taylor wreaked to the game, is what I kind of try to bring to the table."
The Jets think Davis will be a valuable reserve immediately and he should be an asset dropping in coverage in sub situations. But like many rookies, he also hopes to make an impact on special teams.
"Special teams is always fun for me. I'm looking forward to it. Me and Coach Westhoff hit it off pretty good. I'm enjoying him. Special teams is good. He has me working on all four right now," Davis said. "I'm just trying to learn exactly how he wants me to play each position. And once I know exactly what I'm doing and I'm comfortable, then I'll be able to be in full-attack mode."
Davis is looking forward to learning from one of the better inside 'backer duos in football — David Harris and Bart Scott.
"I think everybody's going to be kind of watching the older guys at their position and kind of watching to see how they handle themselves," he said. "We can be great players, but if we don't know how to be a pro we can't totally be effective."
But on this first day of the Jets' 2012 Rookie Minicamp, it was Demario Davis leading the way as you could hear his voice throughout day one.
"I'll be ready to lead when your called to do it," he said. "But also you have to know when to lead and when to follow, and it's all about being a good teammate."