Darrelle Revis was seated at his locker earlier this month when someone asked if one of his teammates has stood out to him as a leader during the spring portion of practice.
“Demario,” Revis said, pointing toward the temporary locker in the middle of the Jets locker room occupied by rookie linebacker Demario Davis.
“A rookie?” Revis was asked.
“He’s vocal,” the All-Pro cornerback replied. “You don’t frown on that. You accept that. He still has a lot of things to learn. But just to have those leadership qualities, you can tell where he came from. You can tell he was a leader in college.”
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This is what the Jets had in mind when they selected Davis in the third round of April’s NFL Draft out of Arkansas State. This is what coach Rex Ryan saw when he sat down to interview Davis a few weeks before the draft. It is what led him to compare Davis to Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis moments after Davis left the room, a comparison he later made public.
Ryan was not comparing Davis’ ability to Lewis, who he pointed out is one of a kind. But he saw something in Davis’ mannerisms and in his face when he spoke about the game. When the Jets’ pick came up in the third round, they jumped on Davis, a pick some felt was a reach.
But during organized team activities and two mini-camps Davis has stood out. The Jets already are using him in their sub packages, moving him inside and outside, on and off the line of scrimmage.
“I have not been disappointed one bit,” Ryan said. “This is what you get. He’s the first guy on the practice field, the last guy to leave. He’s bright-eyed, he can’t wait, can’t wait to get in the classroom, can’t wait to get on the field, be with his teammates. I think that’s why you’re going to see this young man have a long career. There’s no doubt.”
Davis, 23, smiled when told about Revis’ compliment.
“I appreciate that coming from Revis,” he said.
Davis said he learned to be a leader in college when his team was struggling and then when there was a coaching staff change. Since he joined the Jets, he said he has picked his spots to show his leadership.
“When I’m with the [second and third teams], I’m more vocal,” Davis said. “I’m a little less vocal with the ones because I’m playing more of a role in that situation. But when I’m with the twos and the threes, the more I feel confident the more I’ll step up and lead. Leading is always about timing. It’s not always about being vocal. It’s about giving an example. I always try to be an example for the other rookies, how I prepare on the field and how I carry myself off the field. “
Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine said Davis has been “as advertised” and will be a big part of the team’s plans this year. Davis said he feels like he already has a good command of the playbook and believes he will be sharpening his skills in training camp, not trying to learn the defense.
“He’s mature beyond his years,” Pettine said. “If you just dropped in here and knew nothing, you didn’t have a roster or anything, you would never think that kid is a rookie. In the days that he’s off, he’s here in the facility studying. He’s constantly with [linebackers coach] Bob Sutton just mastering it. “
Davis has a big month ahead of him. He is getting married on July 7 in Mississippi, followed by his honeymoon in the Bahamas. When he gets back, he said he plans on coming back to New Jersey to get a little more work in before training camp opens on July 26 in Cortland.
His extra work has not gone unnoticed by the coaches or his teammates.
“He has the potential to be really good,” Revis said. “I think we’re all really excited about that pick.” firstname.lastname@example.org