[Editor’s note: For those who still haven’t heard the news, I’ve started writing a weekly sports column for SB Nation DC. So every Tuesday, my contribution to society (or at least the D.C. sports scene) is located over there.]
If you were asked back in January to predict the two players who would benefit the most after Mike Shanahan took over as the new head coach of the Washington Redskins, I’m willing to bet you wouldn’t have immediately landed on tight end Fred Davis and safety Kareem Moore.
And yet, since the Redskins began preparing for the 2010 season, those two third-year players have easily been the biggest standouts for the burgundy and gold this offseason.
It seemingly doesn’t matter what day you go out and watch a practice. All you have to do is make the trip out to Redskins Park and you’re almost guaranteed to see both Davis and Moore shine.
Think about it this way, if you started a conversation about a Redskins tight end or safety with fellow ‘Skins fans, they’re probably not going to talk about Davis or Moore. No, they’re much more likely to bring up more established players such as Pro Bowler Chris Cooley or the hard-hitting LaRon Landry.
But if these youngsters keep it up, it’s only a matter of time before they become regular household names.
Lets starts with Davis.
Sure, he did an admirable job filling in for Chris Cooley last year when the veteran tight end was injured, but we’re talking about a guy who, until that point, was most famous for oversleeping on his first day of work as a professional. That’s not really the first impression you hope to make. So when, exactly, did he get to the point where he’s playing so well that he’s suddenly forcing Shanahan and friends to figure out ways to get him on the field?
For my money, the transformation happened over the course of the final six games of 2009. You see, while some of his teammates had unofficially thrown in the towel on the season as early the Week 3 loss at Detroit, Davis was a guy who refused to quit.
Many players stand in front of a camera and spout clichés after a loss. Not Davis. He takes each and every loss personally. He openly admits that losing sucks and he’ll do anything to avoid it.
That’s probably because defeat wasn’t something Davis dealt with before coming to Washington. Through four years at USC, Davis’ Trojans went 47-5.
Sadly, the Redskins matched that loss total by their bye week last season (they were 2-5 at the break). Some guys accept defeat. Others take it personally. You can guess which camp Davis falls into.
“I’ve never been a part of a situation like this and I hope I don’t ever have to again,” Davis told me after the Redskins bungled away a chance at victory against New Orleans last season. “With everything that has happened, I really hope I don’t have to go through this again in the future. It needs to turn around somewhere. I know it is going to turn around; I just wanted it to turn around this week against this team. It would have been really great to have a win against a team like that.”
As the losses mounted in painstaking fashion, Davis tried his best to provide an offensive spark to the team’s dormant attack – as evident by his team-high six touchdown receptions.
Fortunately for ‘Skins fans, that first taste of success has only made Davis more determined. He’s dedicated this entire offseason to making himself the best football player he can be, whether it be in his route running, his blocking or anything else the coaches ask of him.
“Man, I’ve been waiting for this for a while now,” Davis said. “I’m tired of being a backup. If they give you an opportunity, you’ve got to take it, you know what I mean? It’s on me to show these coaches what I can do and make them want to put me on the field.”
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