With Jon Bostic likely out for the year, the past two games have provided an opportunity for Jamin Davis to take a larger role on the Washington Football Team's defense. "Defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio had some advice for the first-round pick: "let it rip."
"I'd like him just to say, 'the heck with it. I'm going to make a play, you know?'" Del Rio said ahead of Washington's game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Davis, who played in 13 snaps against the New Orleans Saints, played in a career-high 46 snaps on Sunday. It was clear at points that Davis still has room to grow, but he was undoubtedly more productive. He led the team with 11 tackles, six of which were solo, and had a quarterback hit. To head coach Ron Rivera, it's another sign that the rookie is getting progressively better.
"I think he is showing signs of what we believe he can be," Rivera said during his Monday press conference. "And that's a downhill guy that could run."
Davis' ability to run downhill and make plays is part of what enticed Washington to draft Davis with the No. 19 overall pick. His speed, size and pursuit were praised by analysts, and those traits are what helped him lead Kentucky with 102 tackles.
At the professional level, the results have been uneven. Del Rio said there are times when Davis is playing a little too carefully, which is why he and Rivera have wanted him to play more freely.
It looked like Davis was doing that against the Chiefs. While working against Byron Pringle in the first quarter, he slammed into the receiver, limiting his reception to just a two-yard gain. Later in the fourth quarter, with Washington trailing 17-13, Davis came streaking off the edge towards Patrick Mahomes, who had to chuck the ball to the sideline to avoid a sack. That particular play, Rivera said, "really showed his ability to close the distance."
There were also times when Davis' contributions didn't show up on the box score but still had an impact on plays. With the Chiefs facing a first-and-10, Davis helped plug a crease at the line of scrimmage, which partly resulted in running back Darrel Williams getting stopped for a three-yard gain.
Davis' 11 tackles against the Chiefs were more than what he recorded in the past three matchups combined. Davis said earlier in the year Washington was starting to get "the real Jamin Davis." Perhaps Sunday's game was a glimpse of what he was talking about.
Either way, Davis wants to keep in mind that he is a rookie, after all, so he's going to make mistakes. That can't stop him from making plays, though, so he wants to take Del Rio's advice. He wants to clear his head, make plays and as the defensive coordinator said, "let it rip."
"I'm pretty hard on myself with a lot of things," Davis said. "I don't really like to make mistakes. I like to be exact with everything I do. That was one of the things I sat down and talked to [the coaches] about … You just gotta make plays, and they're with me, right or wrong."