Why You May Not Know Him: He was inactive for Houston's last
game and has, essentially, been out of football for the past 2 1/2 years.
After being drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the second round of the 2002
draft (47th overall), Davis made his way into the lineup and quickly established
himself as a big-play threat (11 touchdowns in 12 starts during his first two
seasons). He opened the 2004 season as the No. 2 receiver and continued to
flash his deep speed (26.0 yards-per-catch in 7 games) before being placed on
injured reserve with a toe injury.
In August of 2005, Davis was traded to the Patriots and his career began to unravel a bit. He was released in September, but was re-signed in October and finished out the season with 9 game appearances, 4 starts, 9 catches for 190 yards and one touchdown. He also saw some spot duty as a kickoff returner.
After signing a one-year deal with Buffalo in 2006 and seeing action primarily on special teams, Davis signed with the Texans in April of this year.
Why He's Worth Watching: Given his experience and ability to stretch the field, he is the most likely candidate to replace injured star Andre Johnson who was declared as out for this week's game due to a knee sprain.
Davis has long-ball speed, decent ball skills and his 15.5 yards-per-catch average for his career cannot be ignored. If the Texans are to attempt to attack the Colts down the field -- or if they get behind and need a quick strike -- Davis is the player they'll be looking for.
The sixth-year veteran can be dangerous with the ball in his hands in the open field as he uses the same instincts that have made him a decent returns specialist (21.4 yards per return career average). The Indianapolis defenders will need to make sure they lock in on him and wrap him up with both arms. If he sees daylight in front of him, he's gone.
Why You Might Notice Him: Davis should line up against Kelvin Hayden in this game unless the Texans opt to flip him to the other side. The Colts cornerback has been involved in a lot of plays this season. Hayden's 15 solo tackles is a lot for two games for a cornerback, even one that plays in a system that expects its cornerbacks to contribute fairly heavily in run support. The second-year player also forced a fumble in the Titans game, but this is also his first full year as a starter.
While Hayden has to be breathing a sigh of relief that he doesn't draw a Pro-Bowler like Johnson this weekend, he has to remember that there are no easy draws in this league. He needs to use his size (surprisingly comparable to Davis at 6-foot-0, 195 pounds) and his hands to slow Davis' release at the line of scrimmage.
In the Tampa 2, the cornerbacks often line up close to the line so it's unlikely that Hayden will have the benefit of a 7- to 9-yard cushion to compensate for the Davis' speed. But their close proximity should work in Hayden's favor should the Texans decide to get Davis the ball quickly on screens and slants as they have done frequently with Johnson this year.
At the End of the Day: Second-round pick or no second-round pick, there's a reason Davis has been on three teams in the last two years. Receivers, especially those that rely on their speed, are often affected badly by toe injuries. Given the severity of Davis' past injury, it's entirely possible that he's lost a step -- or two -- and no matter how good his yards-per-catch average is for his career, he's still not Andre Johnson.
So it would seem that the Colts will catch a break this week. However, much like the Chiefs and Panthers probably thought they were catching a break when they saw the Texans on the schedule, Indianapolis cannot get too comfortable unless it wants to share their fate. Davis is a skilled player that is potentially explosive and the Colts would be wise to pay him the attention and respect they would pay Johnson.