During the season, Kristian Dyer will be writing some weekly pieces for the blog this season. Look for his work throughout the week.
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Very few rookies come in with the pressure of being a leader, but that was the mantle placed on Jets third round pick Demario Davis this past spring by head coach Rex Ryan. Comparing Davis to Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, Ryan hailed Davis for his outstanding leadership abilities.
The pressure is clearly on Davis in a way that is perhaps unfair for any rookie – let alone one from an Arkansas State program in the tiny Sunbelt Conference. But for Davis, the talk of him being a leader before playing a game is more hyperbole than his actual focus.
“I’m always going to be me; I’m always going to be who I am at the end of the day. I want to be high character, high intensity on and off the field. I’m a rookie in this situation and now, I want to be a follower. I’m watching these guys, I’m listening,” Davis told The Jets Blog. “This is my first football game and they’ve been doing it for years. It’d be foolish of me to come in and try to lead them, tell them how to do things. I just want to come in and execute and do what I need to do.”
At this point in his career, there is a sense from Davis that he needs to watch and learn. While he won’t change who he is or the temperament that got him from Arkansas State to the NFL, he will humbly defer to a linebacker corps that is deep and veteran laden.
“When you try to do too much, try to bear too much, that’s when the pressure comes, that’s when you succeed, that’s when you don’t do as well. I just want to do my part and be ready when my number is called upon,” Davis said.
Davis will be called on in special teams or subpackages this Sunday against Buffalo. He comes to the league an under the radar player with something to prove. There is clearly anticipation on his part to get his career officially started.
“You have no choice but to be excited. It is Week 1 of football. Every one waits a year or however many months it is to get back to it,” Davis said. “Your nerves are extremely high, you’re very emotionally excited. If you’re not excited about this, you can’t get excited about anything.”
Last week, Davis made the switch to wearing No. 56, a tribute he says to former Giants linebacker and NFL Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor. As feared of a defensive player as they come, in Taylor Davis says he has found a player to emulate.
The jersey number is also significant because Psalm 56 is one of Davis favorite passages from the Bible. Written by Israel’s King David, he who famously slayed the giant Goliath, it is written against the backdrop of humiliation and oppression. The Psalm reaches an emotional climax in verse 11 when David writes “In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”
It carries weight and meaning for a warrior who will walk out into battle on Sunday afternoon against the Bills.
“Another reason I like that number in addition to it being Lawrence Taylor’s is Psalm 56, which has a lot to say about what I believe in,” Davis said. “It’s very important to me.”
Kristian R. Dyer is a contributor to The Jets Blog and covers the Jets for Metro New York and contributes to Yahoo!Sports. He can be followed @KristianRDyer.