Absence Of Davis Cause for An Alarm

The Washington Post's Jason Reid reports on the excitement surrounding new head coach Jim Zorn's first minicamp. Video by Atkinson & Co.
By Jason Reid and Paul Tenorio
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, May 5, 2008

On the final day of the Washington Redskins' minicamp, Jim Zorn was confronted with the first challenge of his nascent head coaching career when former Southern Cal tight end Fred Davis, the team's second selection in last weekend's NFL draft, did not report to practice yesterday and had to be located by team security personnel.

Davis overslept and was not involved in any legal trouble, said Zack Bolno, Washington's executive director of communications.

Zorn, who is in his first year as a head coach after spending the past seven seasons as the Seattle Seahawks' quarterbacks coach, had a lengthy meeting in his office with Davis in the afternoon, according to Bolno. When asked if Davis would be disciplined, Bolno said the matter would be handled internally. Attempts to contact Davis were unsuccessful.

After practice, Zorn said he knew he would be confronted with incidents like this as a head coach. "Very disappointing, but part of this is life," Zorn said. "This'll be the first time I get to deal with this situation, too. It's going to come at some point one of these days in my life, it might as well come now."

Rookies will not participate in this week's three organized team activities. OTAs resume June 2; there will be eight overall, and rookies can take part in those.

Davis's brother, Kedran, in a phone interview from Los Angeles, said he did not believe there were any major problems that caused the absence.

"I really don't think it's anything bad," Kedran said. "I haven't talked to him yet, but I talked to his roommate out there, and I'm not hearing anything to really be worried about. Really, I'm assuming it's nothing bad because he always calls me if there's something wrong.

"Knowing Frederick the way I do, he was probably just out late and he overslept, he probably just didn't hear the alarm. And I know he wasn't feeling too good the other day."

The Redskins selected Davis with one of their three second-round picks -- No. 48 overall -- in the draft. With needs for depth throughout the roster, including on both the offensive and defensive lines, the pick was met with some scrutiny because Washington already has Pro Bowl tight end Chris Cooley on the roster. Following the selection, Redskins officials said that Davis was rated too highly on their draft board to pass up.

"We were going to take the best players. So, saying that, Fred Davis was the best player on our board at the time we took him," said Vinny Cerrato, executive vice president of football operations, following the first day of the draft.

As a senior at USC, where he finally thrived after being converted from a wide receiver to a tight end, Davis had a personal-best 62 receptions for 881 yards (a 14.2-yard average) and eight touchdowns. Davis, who holds all of the Trojans' season and career receiving records for tight ends, was the recipient of last season's John Mackey Award, presented to college football's top tight end.

In Zorn's version of the West Coast offense, the team is expected to operate with more two-tight end sets, and coaches said Davis provides the offense with more flexibility.

"There are plans for him," wide receivers coach Stan Hixon said after the April 28 press conference introducing Davis and the team's other second-round selections. "We'll have some two tight-end sets. . . . We want to be in a situation where we can be very versatile, and utilizing talent in multiple formations. Obviously, Cooley is a Pro Bowler and he's going to be the guy. We can fill Fred in there as we go."

In his press conference after practice, Zorn said he hoped Davis learned a lesson and that the team's other rookies also took something away from the incident.

"If it is [oversleeping], he's got to be mortified," Zorn said. "But that's a young guy, let's set the alarm. You can call for a wake-up call, whatever. And some of these guys are young enough, I'm serious, to not even understand that. He thought maybe somebody else was going to wake him up, I don't know. But he'll learn, he'll learn real quick."

And although Davis's absence on the final day of minicamp could be viewed as a cause for concern, the Redskins will be rewarded in the long run for having selected the tight end, his brother said.

"Fred worked real hard to get to where he's at and he's going to work real hard for the Redskins," Kedran Davis said. "I'm not worried because I know how hard he works and how much he loves to play football. Anybody can oversleep, so that's not really a big deal or anything. I know they had to be up real early [for practice], and I know he wasn't feeling well, so that can happen. They know what type of football player he is."

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