New Orleans Saints linebacker Demario Davis
Video conference with New Orleans media
Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020
Can you talk about Malcolm Jenkins' presence in the locker room, on the field and the Players Coalition?
"Since I came into the league (I've gotten to know him), being a part of the NFLPA together, being a part of the coalition together, a little bit out there was fun. So we've had the opportunity to work together in several spaces, always being able to respect his game from afar. So having him in the locker room has just been wonderful. We have already linked up on a couple of ideas and projects that we want to get involved in off the field. It's been great having his leadership and his experience on the field. You can just already tell just from some of the conversations we're able to have, after plays, about what we saw and (being) able to see the things the same way. So when you got guys that have experience, it doesn't matter whether they've come from other teams, they've seen so many of the same set, same formation, same type of plays, and know how to look the game from a format standpoint, or you know, looking at you know, some of the different formations, tendencies, concepts and just having an understanding of it that you can kind of have conversations, that you can't necessarily have with young guys right off the bat."
We heard Alvin Kamara kind of gushing about your study habits and your ability to kind of call things out for an opposing offense. When did you know how vital studying was going to be for you and how much more of it do you do now than when you were younger?
"I was fortunate to come in with some great coaches and great, great players. I was drafted by Rex Ryan and him and Dennis Thurman taught me a lot about breaking down film and understanding opponents, but I also had opportunity to play with great guys like David Harris, Antonio Cromartie, Darrelle Revis and so watching those guys, that was something even when I was a young guy that I wanted to grow in my game and my study habits. I knew (that) would help me become a better player. And then fortunately, in my third season, I had the opportunity to play with Ed Reed and we formed a relationship, not just on the field but off the field. So in the offseason, I was able to spend a lot of offseasons with him picking his brain on how he studied for opponents and learn how to look at formations, tendencies, read quarterbacks, read a lineman, and that just helped me continue to grow in my study habits. And that's something I take so serious, that I don't even think now that I've even begun to break through the cusp of what I can learn. I was even picking his brain about a lot this offseason and just taking a deeper dive into how he studied tape. And I think it's just helped me tremendously."
How much in a day for you can it consume?
"It's different. Right now, of course, it's training camp, so it's not as much study as it is just individual techniques. I'm not really studying our offense. I'm just looking at myself and things and areas I can grow in. And still try to perfect my game and my craft. As you get into the season, different teams take different amounts of study, it's all about just getting to a point where you feel comfortable."
Were they giving you a lighter snap count today? It just seems like they were subbing in other linebackers a lot.
"Our coaches, they do the rotation. You know how they want to (do things), of course, we got 80 guys right now. So, they rotate. That's on the coaches."
How has Zack Baun been able to handle dropping into coverage? And are there any certain things you've worked with them on to try to help him along?
"Yeah, I think you know when you have young guys come in, that you want to see them have the ability to contribute early on, it's about trying to keep the game simple for them. He has a lot to be able to try to diagnose. There is a lot asked of our linebackers here. But where I've tried to help him is just keeping the game real simple. (There are) some areas that he has to focus on a little bit more than others. It's not necessarily about grabbing the whole playbook, it's just understanding, what's the one role they're asking you to come in and play right now. And locking in, on that and keeping the game simple. So for young guys that they can keep the game small their first year, then a second year, grow it a little bit more, and the third year grow (it more). That's how you prevent from stunting their growth. You see, you know, young guys like Chauncey Gardner (Johnson), or Ceedy Duce, have this success because he was able to keep the game small and simple in his first year. And now he is able to expand his mind and grow. And so I think, if Zack can do that, some of our younger guys can do that. They'll have that same line of success."
We talked to Michael Hodges this offseason and he described you as an intentional learner and that you take an approach just as good as anybody. Curious, what's your relationship like with him? And what are some of those areas that you've talked about that you are heading into the season wanting to focus on?
"Hodge is great. We have had a great relationship and a great bond. It was almost instantaneous when I first came. Especially, I think we know some of the same people. He knows, really good, my linebacker coach (at Arkansas State), (now the) head coach at Indiana, Tom Allen. And so we were able to connect like right off the bat. And even on gamedays, Coach Nolan was in the booth and so Hodge was down on the sideline. So we got the chance to form a really great relationship and he is focused on pulling the greatness out of all of us. And so, even this offseason, just giving me things that I could work on, areas where he's seen that I could grow in a lot. You know, that is always important. You want coaches who know how to coach, coach you hard, challenge you, that know how to motivate you and bring the best out of you. And I think he has all that and so, he's been a phenomenal coach to work with."
My question is about Alex Anzalone, what's it, like getting him back after he's been gone for quite a while?
"I think Alex brings a lot to our defense. I think that the sky's the limit for him. When you see a linebacker with his skill set, he has speed, he has size, he has agility, he can cover, he can blitz. He is really smart you know, not just in the classroom but you know, football IQ and looking forward to him being able to have, you know, a full season to be able to put it all on display and you just really show his value. I remember he was my first guy here, he was somebody that caught my attention because of his athleticism and his football intellect. And I just think, you know, when he's able to show all that he has and his skill set on a high level, I think a lot of people will be raving about him."
You mentioned the aquatics part of conditioning that you added this offseason with the water workouts at your offseason home in Nashville. I just wanted to know if they were working out, you know, conditioning-wise that way you felt like they were going to pay off in practice?
"Yeah. I kind of like it, like getting into a new car, like getting a new Ferrari and you just ready to test drive it. And so in practice, you're only able to do so much. But let's just say I'm excited to take the new wheels for a spin."
I just wanted to follow up on Malcolm (Jenkins). He describes himself, funny enough, as a natural introvert, but what impresses you about his personality when it comes to organizing and leading the charge with so many of the dynamic personalities involved in that Players Coalition?
"I think him and Q (Anquan Boldin) do a good job as being the founders and kind of the leading voices in the coalition. You have a lot of alpha males in that group, especially on the task force. And so, all of us are very opinionated and have very strong personalities. And so, being able to balance those dynamics isn't necessarily easy. And I think they do a good job of that. And it's just a good collective group that I enjoy working alongside."
I just wanted to expand on something you mentioned earlier, when you said linebackers have a lot of responsibilities in this defense. Could you give an example of maybe how that responsibility you might have in a defense that's different from previous stops? Just how, you know, maybe like the Saints would differ in what they're asking of their linebackers. Then another defenses you've played in, if that makes sense. I was just wondering if it's any different than your other stops.
"Now, I don't know if it's necessarily different. Linebackers traditionally on all defenses are, especially the inside backers are kind of your quarterback of your defense. So not only from the time that the offense breaks the huddle, do they have to get the defense lined up, so they usually have to give a front of communication to let them know what side they're set on. Then they have to give the coverage, what side they're supposed to roll down to or what side the blitz is coming from. And if the safeties or nickel are involved, so the linebackers have to communicate that. And then if an adjustment happens, like a receiver goes in motion, a tight end shifts, or they create a new formation, that is typically on the inside linebackers to tell the whole defense what type of adjustment is being made. And so, just having to understand that, from a linebacker concept, or standpoint, is just a little bit more than that's asked of other positions. So you have to be in tune to the whole, not only your whole defense, but also everything that the offense is doing at all times."
I just didn't know if you are just speaking generally as a linebacker, just that it is different for your position group?
"Yes, it's generally the same. So what's hard about it, is as you go from team to team, it could be the same communication that you're making, but the words could be different. And so, for a linebacker, most times is just learning those new words."