Redskins’ tight end Fred Davis catches a pass in training camp Aug. 16 (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Redskins tight end Fred Davis tallied career highs in receptions (59) and receiving yards (796) and was named the team’s offensive player of the year last season. Davis has established himself as Washington’s unquestioned starter at tight end, a development that contributed to the release of longtime Redskins favorite Chris Cooley.

In March he signed a one-year contract as the team’s franchise player, a designation that will earn him the average pay of the NFL’s top five tight ends (roughly $5.4 million).

Still, Davis said Wednesday, “I have a lot to prove this year, and I definitely am up to that. I think I’m going to do well.”

Davis’s task begins Sunday when the Redskins open their season against a New Orleans team that features a tight end who had a career year of his own. Saints third-year tight end Jimmy Graham was selected to the Pro Bowl last season after hauling in 99 catches for 1,310 yards and 11 touchdowns.

“Even though we ain’t playing each other, it’s always good to have that competition level where you want to do better than that guy,” Davis said of Graham. “He’s a highly touted tight end in the league and everybody looks at him as a great player, so of course definitely I want to go out there and do better than him.”

Davis said he watches film of several NFL tight ends and searches for aspects of their game that he can adapt to his skills. Among the players he said he gleans the most from are New England’s Aaron Hernandez, San Francisco’s Vernon Davis and Kellen Winslow Jr., who was released Saturday by the Seattle Seahawks.

As for Graham – who stands 6-foot-7 and weighs 265 pounds – Davis said he watches film of the Saints’ heralded tight end but hasn’t yet discovered anything in particular that he could put to use.

Graham is “a very tall, big guy, so I can’t be 6-8 and jump up seven feet in the air to get a ball,” said Davis, who is 6-foot-4 and 247 pounds. “He’s a good tight end, but I really haven’t seen anything out of him that I can use of his yet. But he’s a [third]-year tight end…He has good talent around him and a good quarterback, so I think that helps him out a lot.”