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John DeShazier: Tyeler Davison putting together strong training camp

Payton: 'I think he’s putting together a really good training camp'

White Sulphur Springs, W. Va. – The new toys that the New Orleans Saints added at defensive tackle in the offseason are destructively formidable, shiny new additions that prompted positive headlines from the moment they were acquired.

There's Nick Fairley, a free agent pickup and former first-round pick (No. 13 overall, in 2011), who had seasons of 5.5 and six sacks, respectively, for Detroit in 2012-13. And there's Sheldon Rankins, New Orleans' first-round pick this year (No. 12 overall) and an immediate need-filler, who produced 13 tackles for loss, six sacks and 58 tackles in his senior season at Louisville.

Add to them John Jenkins, a third-round pick in '13 and a 12-game starter last season (66 tackles, a forced fumble and fumble recovery), and there is an interior foundation that has the makings of a solid wall.

But neither of them has had a training camp so far that has been any better than the one put together by Tyeler Davison.

The former fifth-round pick from Fresno State in '15 has taken advantage of every opportunity he has gotten this offseason, none more so than when Fairley was injured and Davison got a chance to work with the No. 1 defense at The Greenbrier.

Davison has been a disruptive force, collapsing the pocket, harassing the quarterback, beating resistance either by forcing his way through the blocks or roaring around them.

The 6-foot-2, 309-pound Davison almost totally has been a different player than he was as a rookie, when he had 26 tackles and 1.5 sacks in five starts over 16 games, and appears ready to be much more than a relief-giver to his more noteworthy teammates.

"I'd say that he's really at a good weight right now," Coach Sean Payton said. "He's been noticeable on film at the nose. He is a guy that is extremely athletic and can (also) move. He has made some plays down the line of scrimmage.

"I'm encouraged to continue to watch his progress because right now, I think he's putting together a really good training camp."

It's been good enough that Davison appears comfortable with the starters on defense, and going against the ones lined up opposite him on offense.

"It's training camp," he said. "It'll count once the season starts, but the coaches want to see everybody going against different people, and you've got to take that into consideration. But it's an opportunity to go with the (starters), the best competition there is, and that does mean a lot to me because you can really test yourself and see where you're at."

So, where is he?

"I want to get better at everything, but the main thing is technique," Davison said. "I spend a lot of time working on my technique. Other than that, making sure I'm in the best shape I can possibly be in. I figured if I had those two things, make sure that those two things were perfect, then I'd be in good shape coming into camp.

"I feel a lot better, I feel a lot more prepared for the whole journey that this season is. Coming in as a rookie, you don't really know what to expect as far as what an NFL season really is, what being on an NFL team really is. Having that whole first season under your belt, it kind of teaches you about that stuff and I feel like that helps a lot.

"And then, not only that, getting that technique down. D.A. (Dennis Allen) was our defensive coordinator at the end of last season so I'm kind of familiar with that already, I'm familiar with our defensive line coaches and how they want us to play. I think all that stuff together helps a lot."

Any tool that Davison has at his disposal, he's willing to include. That includes the lessons taught from a high school wrestling career that ended with him posting a 28-1 record as a senior, and a state championship as a heavyweight at Desert Mountain High in Scottsdale, Ariz.

"I think it benefits a lot, having done wrestling for four years," he said. "It teaches you a lot about leverage and balance and how to position yourself so that you can have an advantage. Learning how to twist and everything.

"I think it translates. Now, you've got to have your football technique, otherwise it doesn't matter. But I think it translates a good amount to football."

It, and the rest of Davison's work, have translated well enough that he has been a standout during training camp, garnering notice even among highly regarded teammates at defensive tackle.

"You've got to focus on yourself and make sure you're getting better and doing everything you can," he said. "Those guys are my teammates, I love them, those are my boys, and I want them to get better just like I'm getting better. But I've got to focus on getting myself better every single day, working on my technique, my craft, and just keeping my eye on the prize."

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