Heading into his fifth season with the Miami Dolphins and presumed fourth year as a starter, Jesse Davis should have a home on the offensive line. It seems the coaching staff is still trying to decide exactly where they want to play Davis, in part because they want to see how some of their rookies play, and in part because Davis has the skills to be a solid player at multiple positions on the line.
A player who has been asked to do just about everything, Davis established himself as the starting right tackle last year, but could also be asked to play guard this season. It appears, however, early in training camp, those are not the only two positions Davis is being asked to play. “I’ve played every position besides center; but moving forward, it’s always what we can put (me in) the best position to move this ball club forward and get wins and have success. However, I have been playing center this week. That’s a little nugget for you,” Davis told the media on Saturday.
Asked to follow up on the “little nugget” and if it is something he is taking seriously or just a early-camp “tweak,” Davis explained, “I’ve been taking it seriously. I don’t want to put – when I’m out there, because it’s the injured group and the rookies and the quarterbacks – it’s just a little extra practice for everybody to get the early group going; but right now, it’s just been – we don’t have enough centers out there right now, so they’re like, ‘hey, why don’t you (go out there)? Let’s see what happens.’ So right now, I don’t want to go out there and put my guys in a bad spot so I have to learn this stuff. I have to make the right calls and put everybody in a position to be successful and see the reps and get the reps right. I think it’s just something to mess with, especially with this COVID stuff. You never know who’s going to be up, who’s going to be down; so I’m excited for it.”
As for being told where he might play when the season starts, Davis admitted he still is not sure. “Nothing yet,” he stated. “We’ve just been rotating around, especially with all of our rookies trying to get them the reps instead of worrying about the vets right now, whoever’s with us in the injury group; but I’m just trying to bring those guys along as well because they didn’t have any OTAs, they didn’t have the meetings. So I’m just trying to drop them knowledge like, ‘hey, the linebacker might do this on this play’ or ‘the running back’s going to do this, so watch for this.’ But nothing on position-wise. I’m just kind of rolling with the punches and like I said, if they want to put me at left tackle again, so be it. It all pays the same for me.”
He added they gave him some off-season training guidance, focus primarily on their right side as either a guard or tackle but do not lose the ability to move to the left side.
Davis, at 28 and in his fifth year in Miami, is the longest tenured member of the offensive line, a fact that he has realized this offseason. “Yeah, it’s funny. You wake up one day and then after free agency and whatever and you’re like, ‘wow, I am the oldest guy’ or the most experienced, I guess, in the room,” he joked. “You kind of have to put yourself in that mindset of ‘I’m going to be the leader. I want to be the leader. I want to have my guys. I want to have somebody they can lean on when things are hard or advice with anything.’ I embrace it. I wasn’t appointed or anything like, ‘Hey Jesse, you’ve got to do this.’ It’s more so that this is what I want to do. I started reading a lot of leadership books, too, to try to figure it out and more importantly – kind of like a Navy SEAL book – they’re all about teamwork and how they can build each other up and they can rely on each other. Those things I kind of did this offseason with all of the time I had on my hands and it kind of just gave me a different perspective on how to lead.”
The Dolphins offensive line has been one of the biggest areas of concern over the past several seasons. If Davis can take the leadership role and turn this year’s offensive line into one that can protect the quarterback - especially if rookie Tua Tagovailoa is playing so we do not have a David Carr shell-shock kind of situation - and open up holes in the running game, the Dolphins could take the next step forward this year.