Colts new cornerback eager to get fresh start

Vontae Davis spent the last three years hearing all about what

he did wrong in Miami.

In Indianapolis, he’ll get a chance to prove he can get it

right.

Less than 24 hours after being dealt to the Colts for two draft

picks, Indy’s newest player walked into the locker room and wasted

no time explaining why he’s here: To win games and become one of

the league’s premier cornerbacks.

”I have a lot of confidence in my ability. My biggest thing is

just work and grind. Those who work hard should be rewarded,”

Davis said Monday. ”My biggest thing is working hard as an

Indianapolis Colt and try to do the best I can as a player to help

my team win.”

It may be just what Davis needs to jump start his once promising

career.

Since the Dolphins (No. 27 in AP Pro 32) selected Davis with the

25th overall draft pick in 2009, the 5-foot-11, 205-pound

cornerback produced solid numbers – 148 tackles and nine

interceptions – but was hounded by speculation about why he never

reached his full potential.

There has been plenty of speculation as to what happened in

Miami.(backslash)

Last fall, he showed up late to a practice, then scuffled with

receiver Brandon Marshall. The Miami Herald later reported that the

Dolphins believed Davis came to that workout with a hangover and a

smell of alcohol on his breath. Then-coach Tony Sparano never

confirmed either point.

And when training camp opened this summer, the blunt assessments

were right there for all to see on HBO’s ”Hard Knocks.” The new

Dolphins coaching staff openly questioned Davis’ conditioning level

and desire to play the game. Eventually, he lost the starting job,

a move that made a one-time future star expendable for a

second-round draft pick and a late conditional draft choice.

Davis is content to forgive and forget. During a six-minute

interview, Davis said what happened in Miami was history – or

uttered similar phrases – six times.

”It’s a good thing for me and the Miami Dolphins. It’s a better

opportunity for us both, me as a person and them as an

organization,” Davis said. ”There are great guys in this locker

room. You’ve got (Dwight) Freeney, (Robert) Mathis and these guys

welcomed me in. The first thing Mathis told me was, `Let’s get

ready to work.”’

The Colts (No. 32) believe he can help.

They had been desperately searching for someone to start

opposite Jerraud Powers at cornerback. New general manager Ryan

Grigson had already made three trades to acquire NFL veterans (Josh

Gordy, D.J. Johnson and Cassius Vaughn) and signed another veteran

free agent (Justin King) to fill the void.

But with no clear-cut winner in the cornerback competition,

Grigson and new coach Chuck Pagano decided to take a chance on

Davis.

”You think about when this kid came out, he came out early, he

was 20 years old. He’s only 24 now. So he’s very, very young,”

Pagano said. ”If I think back to when I was 20, 21, 22 years old,

some of the things I did, I’m just glad they didn’t write about it.

It didn’t make the papers. I wasn’t a first round draft choice, so

I kind of flew under the radar just a little bit.”

What the Colts see is a big, fast, physical cornerback who can

thrive in the man-to-man coverage Pagano wants to play in his 3-4

hybrid defense.

With Pagano’s experience coaching the secondary, the Colts think

it could be a perfect pairing.

In fact, when Davis arrived Monday, he reacquainted himself with

the former Ravens defensive coordinator and secondary coach and

asked specifically about why two players he had coached in

Baltimore – Ray Lewis and Ed Reed – were so good.

”When he asked me about those two guys I knew, just looking in

Vontae’s eyes he’s very, very serious about being something

special,” Pagano said. ”He’s serious about what type of legacy he

wants to leave behind. He’s serious about helping us win and win

now. He’s serious about being the very best that he can be as a

football player. So moving forward, I feel really good about

him.”

The question, of course, is whether Davis has matured enough to

forget the past and focus on the future – something that allowed

his brother, Vernon, to escape the doghouse in San Francisco and

emerge as one of the NFL’s top tight ends.

Vontae Davis insists this time will be different.

When he arrived in town, the University of Illinois alum said he

felt right at home in the Midwest.

And, of course, he’s out to prove he can still become the

shutdown cornerback so many expected when he was drafted in

2009.

”There was only one reason for him (Pagano) to come get me, if

he didn’t have high expectations for me, so I wanted to let him

know that I have high expectations for myself,” Davis said. ”My

biggest thing is just working hard every day and picking his brain.

He’s been around a lot of great players. That’s a goal of mine, I

want to become a great player also.”

NOTES: The Colts reached the NFL’s roster limit of 75 on Monday

by placing three players – offensive tackle George Foster, nose

tackle Brandon McKinney and receiver Griff Whalen – on injured

reserve. They also placed offensive guard Justin Anderson on the

physically unable to perform list and nose tackle Josh Chapman on

the reserve/non-football injury list. Indy waived 11 players Sunday

night. … Cornerback Jerraud Powers said he was feeling fine after

spraining his knee in Saturday’s preseason loss at Washington.

Powers said he would have continued to play had it been a

regular-season game. … Backup quarterback Drew Stanton missed the

Redskins game so he could attend the birth of his new son, who was

born Saturday at 10:24 p.m. … Pagano said receiver Austin Collie

was continuing to ”do well” after sustaining at least his third

concussion in less than 22 months during a preseason loss at

Pittsburgh. Pagano said he could be ready to play in the Sept. 9

season-opener at Chicago.