Cortland, NY – Even though former general manager Mike Tannenbaum technically drafted Demario Davis, he’s still a part of the new guard.
For years, the Jets packed their roster with personnel who loved to boast and brag, starting at the top with head coach Rex Ryan.
But now, even Ryan’s braggadocio is wearing thin. Santonio Holmes is going quietly about his rehab and Antonio Cromartie, who once openly called Tom Brady an “a–hole,” has looked like a model citizen.
Clearly, John Idzik is championing a new culture with the Jets, one where Ryan’s press conferences are Belichick-esque and stars are seen but not heard. Stars like Nick Mangold, Muhammad Wilkerson, and if things break right, Davis.
“Everything slows down a lot,” said Davis, speaking of his second year at training camp. “There have been a lot of changes, too, from the first year to the second year. That happens and it’s happened for the better.”
The man Davis is replacing is known for one of the most infamous sound bites in Jets’ history – behind only Joe Namath’s guarantee.
It’s what Bart Scott told ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio immediately after the Jets beat the New England Patriots, advancing to their second straight AFC Championship game.
Scott spent four years with the Jets, but due to either injury or age, just couldn’t stay on the field during passing situations a year ago. So, when Idzik took the helm, he was one of the many casualties, opening the door for Davis.
“[Davis] is doing a tremendous job. I think his pass coverage in particular has been impressive,” Ryan said on Wednesday. “Again, the best teaching tool is going to be experience, to put the ball out there and let him go. I think he’s going to learn more from game action than even as much as he’s learned so far.”
When the Jets take the field for the season opener against Darrelle Revis and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Davis will be among the defensive starters. A defense, which lost six veteran starters in the off-season and has a linebacking corps with an average age of 23 (not counting Calvin Pace, 32). A defense, which, along with a few others, he will now lead.
“That’s just who I am. I know my teammates, I know my coaches look to me to lead,” said Davis. “But the best way I can lead right now is going out, getting lined up and doing my job as best I can.”
Toward the end of mini-camp, Ryan commended Davis for his leadership abilities, using a word, as unusual as it may seem, normally reserved for players like Scott – “charismatic.”
“When we drafted the young man, I recognized that I thought it was unusual for a rookie to come in with such charisma, and whatever you want to call it – leadership,” said Ryan. “I thought when we drafted him, that you either have it or you don’t, and he certainly is a young man that has it.”
When Davis was drafted in the third round out of Arkansas State, it was thought that he could inject a dose of speed into an aging defense. Now, in his second season, he’s bringing more than just speed to the table – and people are taking notice.
“It’s a pretty smooth transition, you learn a lot in year one and you try to come out and execute it in your second year,” said Davis. “I feel like I’ve grown in leaps and bounds and I just want to be able to show that on game day.”