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Thomas Davis Sr. Will Do Whatever It Takes To Be A Leader On Defense


Redskins linebacker Thomas Davis Sr. is excited to be reunited with head coach Ron Rivera, but he doesn't really know what his role is going to be with his new team.

Davis is entering his 16th season in the NFL, so he knows that question will answer itself in time. Once the NFL Draft concludes and the roster is complete, everyone will compete to see where they land on the depth chart.

There are some things that Davis does know, though: the team is young and full of talent, especially on defense with players like Cole Holcomb and Montez Sweat. He also knows he has years of knowledge and leadership qualities he can offer, and that's something he can contribute whether he's a starter or a backup.

"It's all about giving back and pouring into the lives of these guys and getting the most out of them," Davis told local reporters in a conference call on Tuesday.

Davis has been with Rivera long enough to remember the last time he took over a new team. He was a six-year veteran with the Carolina Panthers when Rivera came to Charlotte, North Carolina, for his first head coaching job in 2011.

Redskins fans should already be familiar with how Rivera builds his teams. He wants to establish a sustainable winning culture, and he has brought in new players while releasing others in the first three months of his tenure to make that vision a reality.

As someone who Rivera decided deserved to be a part of his culture in Carolina, Davis said the important thing for players to do right now is "buy in" to the message Rivera is trying to give to them.

"In Carolina, we had some really good teams, particularly on defense, because we came together, worked hard, we knew we had good coaches and we bought into the system," Davis said.

"That's what it's all about right now, getting guys to buy in and understand you can be whatever you want as long as you put the work in."

Outside of being back with Rivera, the surplus of young talent made Washington an ideal destination for Davis. He looks at the defensive line, which includes four first-round picks in Sweat, Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne and Ryan Kerrigan. Davis believes they will allow linebackers to make plays.

But Davis looks at his own position with players like Holcomb, who was second among rookies in tackles last year, Ryan Anderson and Shaun Dion-Hamilton. After considering all of those players, Davis believes "the pieces are in place to be successful."

"I...look at those top six or eight guys [and] feel like they are capable of going out and wrecking the game," he said.

Davis, who has started in 174 games over the course of his career, hopes he can be a leader to the Redskins' young core.

"I have a ton of knowledge that I can offer to these young guys, and I'm not going to hesitate to do that," he told Voice of the Redskins Larry Michael. "I know we have some work to do, but I'm looking forward to it."

Davis knows Rivera wants to mold a new identity with the Redskins, and that's going to start with developing good practice habits.

"You're going to become what you're going to be in practice," Davis said. "You just have to change the way you practice, you have to practice harder than the game. That's something we've done under Coach Rivera for a long time, and it's shown."

Davis, who turned 37 years old in March, has found a way to remain a starter even as he begins to climb in age. He found a way to start in all 16 games last year and record 112 tackles -- the third-highest total of his career. So, it's not far-fetched to predict that he could be one of the starting linebackers in Washington.

But even if he loses the job to one of the Redskins' younger players, he still wants to be in a leadership role with his new team, no matter what that looks like.

"It's all about going in and doing whatever is asked of me, whatever that ask is," Davis said. "Whether that is mentoring young players, leading by example, just whatever I'm going to be asked to do. That's always been my makeup and something I've always looked forward to doing."

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