Fred Davis came into 2011 training camp slimmer, faster and determined to compete.
Now Davis, entering into his fourth NFL season, could see an increase in playing time while fellow tight end Chris Cooley continues to rest a lingering knee injury.
This preseason, Davis has impressed coaches and teammates. Head coach Mike Shanahan praised Davis for having an excellent camp.
"You don't look at how many strides you're going to make, you look at if you get better every day, and that's what Fred has done," said head coach Mike Shanahan. "He's in excellent shape, he's working extremely hard both in the running game and the passing game, and he has had good practices."
Despite shedding 10 pounds, Davis remains a well-rounded tight end for an offense that requires athletic blockers.
"I've just worked on some technique things," said Davis, a 2008 second-round pick out of USC. "I heard people say I couldn't [block], so whenever you hear that, it makes you want to block even more. That's just the type of guy I am."
In Cooley's absence, Davis provided impressive blocking for quarterback Rex Grossman and the first-team offense during the preseason opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers last Friday.
Davis was targeted twice, and caught one pass for 11 yards in the game. He will see the field more this preseason with Cooley out, and it could carry over into the regular season if Cooley isn't back.
"I'm the type of player where the more I play, the better I get each game," Davis said. "That's just the way I am."
Said Grossman: "Fred totally understands what he's supposed to do on every play and how to run routes. Now he is starting to put his own personality to it a little bit of how he runs things and some of the option routes. He always gets his depth on his routes. And he is so fast."
Davis first emerged in 2009 after Cooley was sidelined midseason with a fractured foot. He started 10 games and finished with 48 catches for 509 yards and a team-high six touchdowns.
Last year, with Cooley back in the lineup, Davis saw less action but still was able to grab 21 catches for 316 yards and three touchdowns.
Ever since the Redskins added Davis to the offense in 2008, he and Cooley have tried to play off each other's strengths.
That'll happen again this year when Cooley is fully healthy.
"We've always been in there working as teammates," Davis said of his relationship with Cooley, "so I always watch what he does and take stuff that he does and add it to my game."