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
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
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
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
”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
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
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
”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.