SNIDER: Davis gives Redskins a throwback feel

Rick Snider
April 01, 2020 - 1:36 pm
Thomas Davis gives Redskins a throwback feel

Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

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Thomas Davis is bringing old-school football to the Redskins.

Coach Ron Rivera and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio are returning to smashmouth football that once dominated the NFC East. Davis is the hammer. You want to talk about tough players? Davis is the only NFL player ever to return from three torn ACLs and the last was nearly a decade ago.

Davis is 37 years old, a 15-year veteran who will be equally team elder as on-field leader. The Redskins haven't seen someone like this since Darrell Green retired after 2002. Indeed, Davis is remindful of Monte Coleman, a Redskins linebacker from 1979-94 who was a senior presence in the locker room filled with great players.

Davis nearly retired after 2018 only to realize he still had something left, so he left Carolina after 14 seasons and started 16 games for the Los Angeles Chargers. It still wasn't enough to scratch the itch to play, so he has rejoined Rivera for another ride.

"About two years ago, I thought that I was going to walk away from the game but then once that season was over it was like man, (I) still can do it," Davis said on a conference call on Tuesday. "Just go until you feel that you no longer want to do it anymore, or that you no longer can do it anymore."

Davis' absence was noticed in Carolina last season, said quarterback Kyle Allen, who played for the Panthers until he was recently traded to the Redskins.

"He's a great locker room presence. He's a great dude. We definitely missed him last year in Carolina," Allen said. "I can't even tell what year he is, but he's been in the league for a long time and he understands leadership. I think a lot of people respect him in the locker room. I think people respect him the second he walks in. He's not afraid to lead. He's not a tentative leader. He's a strong vocal leader. So, I think every locker room needs a couple of those guys."

Davis is a throwback to a time when older players were more commonplace in locker rooms. That's why he feels the need to be a team elder.

"When I first came into the NFL," he said, "I had a bunch of veteran players that definitely did a great job of showing me the way, so here I am going into my 16th season and it's all about giving back and pouring into the lives of these guys and getting the most out of them."

Rivera's arrival is remindful of Marty Schottenheimer's 2001 tenure. Both are former NFL linebackers known for toughness on and off the field. But, most players (Bruce Smith aside) liked Marty despite being so hard on them. Schottenheimer had two full-pad practices daily and the only time I've seen the bull-in-the-ring matches in the NFL. Yet, Marty ate lunch with players and they genuinely liked him for the same reason Davis likes Rivera.

"Whenever you play for a coach that played the game, they understand what guys are going through," Davis said. "They listen more, they adjust the schedule more, they understand that at any given point in the season it's not about tearing guys down, it's about uplifting your players and that's something that coach Rivera has been really good at."

Like getting a 37-year-old linebacker to play hard for another year.

Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @Snide_Remarks

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