Following Wednesday’s practice, Davis sat down with Jesse Agler to discuss his personal growth as a player and explain the intricacies of Kevin Coyle’s scheme.
Because of the nature of the preseason, it can be hard to get a firm grasp on how a team’s evolving. There is, at times, a Groundhog’s Day feel to an NFL training camp and exhibition season, but Davis said the team has its eyes squarely on Week 1.
“We want to come in at our best when we go to face Houston,” said Davis, who is entering his fifth year with the Dolphins. “So the biggest thing we can do is put our head down and work hard as much as we can until the opportunity presents itself.”
Coyle’s past extensive work with Cincinnati’s secondary has put big spotlight on Davis, Sean Smith and the rest of the back end of the Dolphins’ defense. Observers have wondered what effect, if any, an offseason under Coyle will have.
One year can make a huge differenceor for NFL players that are still in their developmental stage.
“It’s an extra year of just learning from Coach Coyle,” Davis said. “He’s been around guys—Leon Hall, Jonathan Joseph—so just trying to pick his brain to see what I can do to improve as a player. The biggest thing is your professionalism. It gets better throughout the years, so my approach to the game is way different.
“The preparation work for my body changed as far as the diet. I think different than I did as a rookie or a second-year guy.”
Though the personnel is more or less the same, the Dolphins defense has a new look this season. Schematically, the unit is switching from a 3-4 to a 4-3, meaning that there will be more four-man fronts than there has been the past few seasons. It’s what they do after the snap, however, that could present problems for opposing offenses.
“We put guys in a lot of different positions. We make it hard for the offenses to see where guys are at. We disguise,” Davis said. “It’s a lot that Coach Coyle put into the defense.”
When evaluating a young player’s transition to the NFL, one of the easiest criticisms to make is that he relies to much on his athleticism. It’s probably what got the player into the league. For those that want to stick around, though, it’s necessary to identify the subtleties of the game. Davis is by no means a player on the athletic decline. But, with the help of the coaching staff, he’s learning what separates a solid NFL cornerback from a great one.
“They stress technique,” Davis said. “You can’t get great at your technique overnight, that’s why we practice every day hard. It’s something you’ve got to do over and over and over again. That’s the nature of the game. In order for you to be good or great at something, you’ve got to practice and be willing to work at it.”
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