Snapshot: Bruce Davis

As we do every year at this time, presents its Snapshot series of features on the Steelers' rookies. Today we're featuring third-round pick Bruce Davis.

The last time we saw Bruce Davis, he was crying. He was walking off the Las Vegas Bowl field with tears in his eyes after his UCLA Bruins lost by a point to BYU on a missed chip-shot field goal.

Davis deserved more. He had 2.5 sacks that game and played so hard he had to be helped to the sideline at the end of the third quarter. That's what he meant when he told before the draft that "this game is my life."

In two years, Davis had 24.5 sacks and consistently showed the motor and passion for the game he showed in the Las Vegas Bowl. Scouts love pass-rushers and high-energy players, and especially those who consider the game their life. But that didn't get him picked any higher than No. 88 by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Why would a 6-2 5/8, 252-pound pass-rusher last until the last half of the third round?

Gotta be the 4.83 40 time.

"That's not right," Davis said at minicamp last weekend. "At my pro day we were running uphill. We've got a pretty big crown on our grass field so we were running uphill, so my times are definitely skewed. But I've got game speed, football speed. As far as the time goes, that to me doesn't mean that much."

It didn't mean much to Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin because Davis, by general consensus, was supposed to last until the fourth round, maybe even the fifth round. But Tomlin laughs off 40 times. He prefers what Davis showed against Ryan Harris of Notre Dame and Sam Baker of USC the last two years – an elite first step.

There was also the aforementioned bowl game, as well as the Senior Bowl where he played outside and inside linebacker and took a few snaps at defensive end. On one of the latter plays, his pass rush forced the opposing QB up into Sedrick Ellis for a safety.

"People at the combine want to see a time," Davis said. "They seem to forget about all the production. I'm second in career sacks at UCLA and I really only played two years. They seem to forget all that when you don't run as well as you can, but if you turn on my game tape you'll see the real speed and the real explosiveness."

There's also the issue of whether Davis can stand up at the point of attack. He played defensive end for UCLA at 239 pounds last season but checked into the combine at 252. It was difficult to add the weight, as he told, and Davis looked somewhat puny at minicamp.

"Right now I'm about 250," he said. "Today I felt great moving around with that extra weight. That's going to come in handy when camp starts and I've got to go downhill and beat up on those big guys, so I'm 250 right now and it hasn't slowed me down."

Davis has won leadership and scholarship awards, but has been called a motor-mouth by teammates. Veteran Steelers probably see Joey Porter in his style and approach, but Davis' agent pitched him to the NFL as the next Jason Taylor, and that suits Davis, who actually looks and sounds like the former Woodland Hills High School star.

"He's definitely the guy I pattern myself after," Davis said of the 6-6, 255-pound Taylor. "He stands up, he gets down in that 3-point stance and he's very good at both. He's always been one of those guys I watched throughout high school and college just to learn little tips."

Last weekend, Davis took tips from James Harrison. Was the ornery rush linebacker a bit intimidating?

"On the football field he definitely is," Davis said. "But he's been very helpful to me so far. Any little questions that I have he's been there to answer them, and it's just great to be able to watch him. He's so talented and you can tell that he loves the game. Inside those lines he's got that fire that not too many people can match, so I'm learning a lot just from one weekend of watching him."

When Davis was drafted, his father, NFL veteran offensive lineman Bruce Davis, said to his son, "that is going to be a great city for you to go play linebacker." The younger Davis in turn told Pittsburgh reporters, "I'm so ready to go to Pittsburgh. They have such a rich tradition. They have some of the best fans in the NFL. I couldn't have picked it better myself. I can't wait to get there."

So, now that you're here, how does it feel?

"It doesn't get any better than this," he said.

Davis was asked how long he'll wait before he unleashes his fiery personality.

"I'm going to be me," he said. "But at the same time there are guys who've been in this locker room since I was in high school. I'm not going to come in and try to force my leadership on anybody. It's going to take time. First you have to earn the respect of the older guys and you do that through your play. When they see you running to the ball every time, giving everything you've got, playing all the special teams, then that will take care of itself.

"When my time comes then it comes, but I'm in no rush because I've still got a lot to learn. I can't really open up my mouth too much. I'm just listening and learning right now."

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