Life in transition (cont.)
Posted: Monday March 3, 2008 2:12PM; Updated: Monday March 3, 2008 4:50PM
As Davis practices against Fazio, alternating between coming off the edge and dropping back into coverage, Wichard gets a call from an NFL general manager and wastes little time hyping up his incoming class.
"You have to see Davis in person," he says. "He's a Jason Taylor-clone."
Again, imitation not innovation.
"I actually think Bruce is going to be a unique player," says Fazio, who most recently was a defensive consultant for the Vikings in 2005. "He's going to be able to put his hand on the ground and also stand up; maybe be a 3-4 linebacker like the Steelers play or be a specialist on third downs when he comes out and rushes the passer, but he has some special skills."
After going through football drills with Fazio and other professional coaches for a couple of hours alongside Balmer and Campbell, Davis gets a moment to relax a bit when the group drives to a nearby restaurant for lunch, although Davis' training technically never ends.
"The hardest adjustment for me is eating," says Davis, who has gained 10 pounds of muscle since the end of last season. "Before I started training I never thought twice about what I ate. I figured I could eat whatever I wanted, but it's not like that at all. I need to gain weight, so I've stepped up my carb intake so much that I have to eat five times a day with snacks in between."
Davis began his daily training regimen for the draft soon after his college football career ended at the Las Vegas Bowl, when he memorably let his emotions go and cried as he walked off the field after UCLA lost to BYU on a missed, chip-shot field goal.
"People always tell me to calm down or tell me I get too emotional. No, no, no. This game is my life," says Davis, whose father Bruce Sr. also went to UCLA and won two Super Bowl rings as an offensive lineman for the Raiders. "As far as I'm concerned I owe this game everything I have, so every time I go out there on the field I let it go. There's no let up, there's none of that. It's just not in my wiring. When I was little kid, I asked my dad if I could miss practice to go to mall one time and I got smacked in the face. There is no room for complacency with me. I'll never take a day off. The day I play my last snap of NFL football is the day I'll finally kick my feet up. "
As Davis talks about football, an NFL highlight package pops up on the television near the restaurant's bar and the immediacy of it all -- Pro Day, the NFL draft and his first NFL season -- finally begins to hit Davis.
"It's overwhelming to think about this sometimes, but at the same time this is what I wanted my whole life," he says as he looks at the television. "If the opportunity presents itself and I catch Peyton Manning with his arm still in the air ready to cock back and throw, I'm going to unload on him. Same goes for Tom Brady and all those guys. They're going to be out there trying to torch whatever team I'm playing on, so if I catch 'em, I'm going to hit 'em. I'm going to hit them as hard as I can and let them know that I'm there."
Just as he finishes his sentence, a highlight of Taylor sacking Manning flashes on the screen, and there is Wichard smiling in the distance.
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