One-on-One With the Newest Bear

The addition of Rashied Davis came without much fanfare, but the cornerback plans on taking advantage of the opportunity the Bears have presented.

Davis has spent the last four years in the Arena League. Despite putting up huge numbers over the coarse of his career, this is his first chance to play for an NFL squad.

The 25-year-old nearly gave up football a year ago. Following an all-league selection, there were no calls from the NFL, which left him wondering if it would ever happen.

"I thought about quitting for a brief second because the Arena League is kind of rough," Davis said. "I was only making minimum and the minimum there is $25,000. Six months out of the year it was great, but during the other half of the year I'm working here, I'm working there."

It's been a long road for Davis. He didn't begin to play organized football until he played for a junior college program. After two years at West Los Angeles College he transferred to San Jose State for the final two years of his college career.

In trying to supplement his Arena League income, he spent a year as a graduate assistant at San Jose State, another year coaching at a junior college and also worked at a local Best Buy.

In 2002, he bounced back and forth between the practice squad and IR for San Jose SaberCats. A fractured fibula cut a promising '03 campaign short. He had been named Ironman in consecutive weeks for his performance as a receiver and cornerback, but the injury landed him on IR.

Davis had a breakout season in 2004, appearing in all 16 games and earning All-Ironman Team honors. He led San Jose with 1,795 all-purpose yards, placed 3rd on team with 44.0 tackles and tied for 2nd with 3 interceptions. He led the league with 24.1-yard kick return average and scored four times.

The five-foot-10, 180-pound Davis improved upon his numbers this season. He was named the SaberCats MVP and Offensive Player of the Year. He put up 44 touchdowns and tied a team record by returning six kickoffs for scores. He also caught 100 passes for 1,420 yards and 30 touchdowns, and rushed for eight more TDs.

Although Davis played primarily an offensive role with the SaberCats, the Bears see him adding depth at defensive back and possibly in the return game with the recent release of R.W. McQuarters.

"It's crazy to be out here as a defensive back the year I didn't play defensive back," Davis said. "Having (Jerry) Azumah at kick return, I would love get a shot at it because that's what I do. Punt return, we don't really have anyone, I feel like I can make the team as a punt returner."

The biggest challenge for Davis to play corner in the NFL will be getting used to keeping outside leverage as opposed to inside leverage, which is the preferred technique used in the Arena League.

Davis also received interest from the Oakland Raiders, but the Bears moved quickly to sign him to a three-year deal.

CB Alfonso Marshall is coming off knee surgery and may not be ready to get on the field until training camp. Davis could challenge Marshall and veteran Todd McMillon for a roster spot with a strong showing in Bourbonnais.


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