BEREA, Ohio—The Browns lost one of their defensive leaders when they decided to release 34-year old Karlos Dansby.
Their answer to the void created was the signing of inside linebacker Demario Davis, formerly of the Jets.
Hue Jackson didn’t mince words when he explained why the Browns signed him.
“He is a good football player.”
He also said one of the primary reasons the Browns signed Davis was because of his leadership ability and Jackson said the Browns are counting on that.
“There is no question,” Jackson said. “I think he can. I think he truly will be. Playing the position that he plays kind of thrusts that on you, but I think he is looking forward to it. He is a very talented football player. He is very athletic. He kind of likes to mix it up a little bit, not a little bit but a lot. He likes playing football. He is a guy that we have put on our football team who we think is going to help us as we continue to move forward.”
Davis is up for the challenge.
“Yeah, we talked about it,” he said. “I think the coaches understand who I am as a player, on and off the field, and who I am as a person. They knew what they would get when they brought me in. They had a grasp before I even said a word of who I was. That was another reason I wanted to come and be a part of this organization. I am just here to bring attitude and effort. That’s all I can bring, a positive attitude every day, great effort. I feel like if you bring maximum effort every day, you can be the best person that you can be, the best player that you can be, and have success. If we can get everybody doing that, then we will be successful.”
Davis (6--2, 240) played in 64 games with 51 starts from 2012-15. He hasn’t missed a game since entering the league while accumulating 392 tackles, 8.5 sacks, four fumble recoveries and one interception. He has more than 100 tackles in each of the past three seasons and was the team leader in 2015 with 114.
One of Davis’ primary tasks is to help the Browns stop the run. The Browns have been perennially at the bottom of the league in that department for far too long.
“As an inside backer, you have to be able to run and tackle,” Davis said. “You have to be able to come downhill. You have to know how to fit up, where you are supposed to be, being in the right spot. It is kind of on the linebackers to lead by example. You are kind of the quarterback of the defense. You have to be ready to play at a high standard. I just try to bring attitude and effort to wherever I am at, whatever the situation is. I feel like if I can do my job at a high level, that is all I can be accountable for. When you are playing at a high level and doing the right things, other guys see that and they do the same.”
Davis said he is a complete player at inside linebacker.
“I just want to be able to come in and help as best as possible,” he said. “I take pride in being a run stopper. I take pride in covering. I take pride in playing in space, being a sideline-to-sideline backer. I take pride in getting after the quarterback. I just want to be able to do whatever the coach is asking of me.”
Davis was a third-round pick by the Jets out of Arkansas State and he split time last season and looks forward to the chance to being an every down linebacker once again.
“Anytime you set a high standard, you have to live up to it,” Davis said. “ I set a very high standard for myself. I always try to push the standard on myself. Life is about adversity. If you look at anything in life, nothing is always going to be on a constant up. There is going to be a rock in the road, a bump in the ground. It happens.”
Davis said the reason he split time was because he was replaced on passing downs for getting beat on a few plays. He vows to not let that happen again.
“It was one of those years, you could kind of say that, but it is all about how you respond to adversity,” he said. “You can say I kind of have a chip on my shoulder about that because I expect higher of myself than anybody. When you talk about [pass] coverage, I got beat on three plays.
“The reason why it looks bad is because I never got beat on a play,” he explained. “When you set that high standard, you have to live up to it. I am excited about the opportunity that is in front of me, and everything that I have done before, it doesn’t matter. It is all about what you do today. People only remember about you what you do last. I’m just excited about this opportunity in front of me. I’m trying to make the most of it.”
Davis said as a free agent he welcomed the opportunity to join the Browns.
“It was more about the opportunity,” Davis said. “It was a good opportunity for me. The new staff, new regime, you can kind of feel the optimism. They are trying to go in a different direction. I know what that looks like. I went through it in college. I went from an average team to a team that has now won four conference championships in a row. I have kind of seen that, and I have a similar feeling. When I came here, I could feel it. I just wanted to be a part of the journey.”