Redskins tight end Fred Davis walks with coach Mike Shanahan before practice on Friday. The Rogers grad is recovering from an Achilles injury.
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There's plenty of daily chatter and noise and tweets about an injury suffered to the Washington Redskins' most significant piece on the offensive side of the football.
The status of Robert Griffin III's recovery from reconstructive knee surgery is national news and drives plenty of discussion on the NFL blogospheres.
For six-year NFL veteran tight end Fred Davis, who missed the second half of the 2012 season and a Redskins playoff berth due to a season-ending Achilles injury during the Redskins' seventh game, there's been much less fanfare and talk about his injury.
Yet, commencement of Redskins camp couldn't come soon enough for the Toledo native, who participated on Thursday afternoon in a practice alongside his teammates on a football field for the first time in nine months.
The 6-foot-4, 247-pounder said he's recovered from the first injury of his career to keep him off the field for an extended period of time. He arrived at the Redskins’ camp in Richmond, Va. ready to go, and ready to show that RGIII isn't the only member of the Redskins’ starting offensive unit looking to bounce back from an injury.
"I'm 27 years old, and I feel like I've got three, four really good years left," Davis said during a telephone conversation following his first day practicing with his Redskins teammates. "God willing, maybe I've got five really good years left."
This season is pivotal for Davis, who hasn't exactly delivered on his potential as a prototype pass-catching, run-blocking tight end coming out of USC, where he earned the 2007 John Mackey Award given annually to college football's best tight end.
His top season as a pro took place in 2011, when he played 12 games and pulled in a career-best 59 receptions for 796 yards, including three touchdowns. He recorded six games of 80 or more receiving yards during that season, which is a Redskins single-season record for a tight end. Davis appeared on his way to earning his first Pro Bowl appearance when his season was cut short after being suspended by the NFL for the final four games for failing multiple drug tests.
Despite Davis' last two seasons basically unfolding as incompletes, the Rogers graduate, who has totaled 155 receptions for 1,973 yards (12 TDs) for his NFL career, thinks he's had a solid NFL experience up to this point.
"I would say it's been pretty good, not bad," he said. "I feel like I'm one of the top tight ends in the league."
However, Davis entered the NFL as a prospect with the skill-set and athleticism to eventually emerge as one of the league's top tight ends. Scouts considered him talented enough to excel as a pass-catcher and run-blocker.
However, San Francisco's Vernon Davis, New Orleans’ Jimmy Graham, Baltimore's Dennis Pitta, and New England's Rob Gronkowski (and former Patriot Aaron Hernandez) make up a list of young tight ends who've garnered more attention for their production on the field and in Fantasy League circles than the Redskins' No. 1 tight end.
Davis, who ranked eighth among tight ends in receiving yards during the 2011 season, is playing this season for the Redskins after agreeing in the spring to re-sign for a one-year deal reportedly worth $3.75 million ($1.75 million signing bonus).
He received a one-year contract worth $5.446 million after the 2011 season when the Redskins designated him as their franchise player even after he was suspended by the league.
"[The Redskins organization] definitely had my back because right after that [suspension] they franchised me, and that's not normal," he said.
A big season for Davis this fall could put him in position to help the Redskins and RGIII build upon a 2012 season in which Washington won the NFC East title and earned the team's first playoff berth since 1999. A career-year statistically could also assist his agent Drew Rosenhaus in helping negotiate a more lucrative deal down the road.
Nevertheless, Davis said playing in every game of the regular season is priority No. 1. He'd also like to catch at least 60 passes and gain at least 1,000 receiving yards.
Such production as a go-to receiver for RGIII could serve as proof his nearly year-long rehab from the foot injury and offseason conditioning paid off.
"I feel like I'm quicker," he said. "I feel good, and I want to go out right now and play."
A second-round pick (48th overall) by Washington in 2008, Davis is among the team's veterans and hopes to do his part in making the Redskins a serious Super Bowl contender. He enjoys living in the Washington area and said he wants to help the Redskins win a Super Bowl. He also likes playing for Redskins coach Mike Shanahan, whom he says employs an offense that is "tight end friendly."
"I love coach Shanahan," Davis said. "He's a great coach, and people don't realize that he's a fun guy."
Sharing a huddle with RGIII, who is one of the game's most dynamic and exciting young players, has also been fun for Davis.
"I feel like he's definitely all that they say he is," Davis said. "He's competitive. He's smart, and I feel we're better with him.
"He's definitely a fan favorite. The only other player I've played with that I can compare him to is Reggie Bush, who I played with at USC. He's definitely a playmaker like Reggie."
Davis spends most of the year making his home in the D.C. area and likes the vibe that exists around the nation’s capital. He gets back to Toledo to visit family and friends once or twice a year. Making it to the NFL was a lifelong dream growing up in Toledo for Davis, whose Pee Wee team ironically was the Redskins.
"It's fun, and there's nothing like it," Davis said of playing in the NFL. "It pays the bills. It pays well.
"It's everything that I expected."
And if Davis gets his way, there's still plenty more to come before he's done living out his NFL fantasy.
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