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Jamin Davis having 'a lot of fun' working off the edge


The Washington Commanders are trying everything to see how the players on their roster can best help them win. There were about a dozen players catching kicks during Wednesday's special teams drills, and offensive linemen were being placed at different spots to find the best five players in the group.

Linebacker Jamin Davis, Washington's first-round pick in 2021, is one of the many players trying something new in practice. His new defensive coaches are trying him out as a stand-up pass-rusher in certain situations, and he loves it.

"I'm having a lot of fun with that so far," Davis told reporters June 5.

Davis' place in Washington's defense has been a quandary the team has struggled to solve since he first joined the team out of Kentucky. He started out as a middle linebacker before moving to the outside, which seemed to be more of a fit for his skill set. He was on pace to have a career year, but a shoulder injury forced him to miss the final four games of the season.

Now, with a new coaching staff and philosophy in place, Davis is making another change -- one that his coaches believe will give him the best chance to succeed.

"And we're trying to really push him specifically on the versatility," said head coach Dan Quinn. "So, you'll see him working some with the defensive line, you'll see him working with [pass rush specialist] Ryan Kerrigan on the side, and we're adding parts to his game that maybe we didn't use and we're certainly trying to explore that."

There should be some confidence that Davis, a First Team All-SEC selection by Pro Football Focus in 2020, at least has the athleticism to be a pass-rusher when the situation calls for it. That was one of the things that drew Washington's attention, despite him only having one season as a full-time starter. He put on a show for scouts at the Wildcats' pro day, running an unofficial 4.41 and 4.37 in the 40-yard dash. He also recorded a 42-inch vertical with an 11-foot broad jump.

Davis is familiar with operating as a pass-rushing linebacker, too. He has blitzed more than any Washington player since he was drafted, according to Pro Football Reference, doing so on 122 plays in three years. PFF also notes that he's been a pass-rusher on 190 of his 2,156 career snaps.

Davis' success on those plays, however, shows room for improvement. He has just seven sacks to go with 27 total pressures since 2021, per PFF and PFR.

The hope is that putting Davis closer to the line of scrimmage will give him more opportunities to boost his positive plays.

"He's a big, strong, fast man that has the ability to bend," said defensive coordinator Joe Whitt Jr. "We wanna make sure we get our best players on the field in whatever capacity we can."

The Washington Commanders were back on the field after a week off to continue their OTA practices. Check out the top photos from the afternoon.

Versatility has been one of the biggest points of emphasis for Washington's new coaching staff, and Whitt and Quinn both have a history of shifting playing around the field when they were with the Cowboys. Micah Parsons, who was taken in the same draft as Davis, is perhaps one of the better examples. Prior to being a full-time pass-rusher, Davis also spent time as a linebacker, slot corner and one snap as a free safety.

When Parsons was used primarily as a pass-rusher in 2023, he put up a career-high 14 sacks with 74 tackles.

Parsons and Davis are different players, but there is a track record of players not only successfully adapting to new roles under Quinn and Whitt but succeeding as well.

"We're just trying to build our best 11 guys on the field," Whitt said. "And he's a big, fast, willing guy that's excited about doing it."

Davis said he is trying to "put my own little spin to it."

"I feel like it's giving me a chance to just really cut it loose and just go hunt some quarterbacks," Davis said. "Like I said, I'm having real fun with it right now, and I'm just gonna see where this thing takes me."

The coaches are hoping it will lead to improvement to Davis in a contract year.

"If that's something that he can add value for himself and for the team, then we'll dig in and that'll take a while as well," Quinn said. "That's not something that's in one practice or in one week to say, 'Okay, it's there.' Let's take the time and work through it. I've been very impressed by his work ethic."

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