The Washington Redskins have one of the more intriguing tight end groups in the NFL, with three names leading the charge in 2018.
Thirteen-year veteran Vernon Davis enters his third season with the organization as a great supplement to Pro Bowler Jordan Reed while Arkansas product Jeremy Sprinkle is a great red zone target with his 6-foot-5 frame. It's rare to see in today's league where a team has multiple tight ends available to play at the highest level, but it's an advantage the Redskins have on their side.
With the arrival of Alex Smith, Davis has an even greater responsibility to lead Phillips' group after playing in San Francisco with the Utah product. The Washington. D.C., native has solidified himself as Phillips' go-to man for this upcoming season because he does so much more than score touchdowns and create space for running backs on the outside.
"I think more than anything is them seeing his approach to not only practice, his film study, his approach to meetings and to really just life in general," Phillips said. "He really is about being the best he can be in any situation he's in. From them to see a guy who's had as much success as he's had and has all the physical ability but also takes care of his body, spends extra time watching film and does all the little things exactly right. For them to see that and understand that, that's how you become what he's become [which] is invaluable."
Of course, Davis is on the backend of his career and will eventually hang up his cleats in the coming years. However, the Maryland product is still a key piece to the offense's success and his leadership has had a positive influence on some of the tight ends that are fighting to just make the 53-man roster, including rookie Garrett Hudson from the University of Richmond.
The Raleigh, N.C., native signed with the Redskins on May 30, and has impressed both Phillips and head coach Jay Gruden in his first month with the team. With Davis leading the charge, the first-team All-CAA selection from 2017 has been able to make the adjustment to becoming an NFL player much easier than most, especially as an undrafted free agent who signed during OTAs.
"It's been awesome working with [Vernon], him and Jordan [Reed], all of the guys have been open and welcoming to me," Hudson said. "Just watching those guys work, Vernon has been doing it at the highest level for so long. Just watching him practice, watching him and how he goes about his daily routine and everything he does on the field is great to see. Hopefully I'll be able to pick up a few things from him."
With so many new faces on the Redskins' offense this season, the familiar voice of Davis will be helpful within the tight end room because there shouldn't be as much change when comparing them to the other sections of the offense.
Phillips has seen hardly anything from his group to say that the tight ends are not going to be a key component to the offense once again this year.
"I'm always excited with my group because we've got playmakers," Phillips said. "It's one thing to have a bunch of guys that can grind out some runs, but we're all trying to be complete tight ends. That's the way I coach. We're going to have every phase, pass protection, run blocking, and pass catching. But it is fun to have guys like Vernon [Davis] and Jordan [Reed] and even [Jeremy] Sprinkle who's got talent in the pass game who can make plays and create some excitement and enthusiasm on the team."