After three seasons that he describes primarily as confusing, Fred Davis finally is gaining clarity on how he can help the Washington Redskins, and he has aspirations of establishing himself as one of the best tight ends in the game.
When the Redskins drafted Davis out of USC with the 48th pick of the 2008 draft, even Davis wondered why the team wanted him, because Chris Cooley was coming off of a Pro Bowl season.
Davis had only three catches as a rookie while Cooley posted another Pro Bowl season. Davis shined with Cooley injured in 2009, but then went back to his reduced role last season despite declarations from coach Mike Shanahan and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan that they wanted to use both weapons in multiple tight end sets. Cooley and Davis are good friends despite playing the same position and have lobbied for those sets. And the Redskins did use them, but Davis served mainly as a blocker.
Following Sunday’s season opener, Davis said he – and everyone else -- finally are starting to see how dangerous he and Cooley can be when used together as Washington used two-tight end sets for a bulk of their plays.
“I was kinda confused when I first got here,” said Davis, who on Sunday had five catches for 105 yards – a career high. “I don’t think under Zorn’s offense it was really a two tight end set. This offense was, but we needed another year in this offense to grow and for the receivers and running backs to grow and I think for the linemen to grow, too. That’s where we are now, but we still have to keep growing and still have to get better.”
As has been well documented, Davis reported to camp lighter and more hungry this year. He said he noticed Sunday that his anticipation was better, and that he ran freely rather than having to think so much. He credited extra film study and the insight of new tight ends coach, Sean McVay, for his mental improvements.
Davis is playing in the final year of his contract, but said that his main motivation is the desire to earn more playing time and make a name for himself in the NFL.
“Shanahan definitely doesn’t care about who you are – first round, second round, whatever. If you’re not performing, you’re not going to be here,” he said. “I know, and I watch other tight ends and I feel like I can be one of the best tight ends in this league. That’s all it is, really. I watch a lot of film and I want to be named as one of the top guys.”