PHILADELPHIA — There’s a noticeable difference with Jordan Davis throughout training camp. The 2022 first-round pick still has the same, bulky frame from his rookie season (although he does look a bit leaner than when he first got to Philadelphia).
The body isn’t a noticeable change regarding Davis, now an entrenched starter at defensive tackle. There’s a different approach to his game, with no fear in his response.
“Confidence. I say confidence,” Davis said. “A year ago I was kind of doubting myself. I did make it this far for a reason, but it’s one of those things where you keep second-guessing yourself. Especially after the injury, I was always second-guessing myself.”
A foot injury in Week 8 caused that self-doubt for Davis, who went from starting five consecutive games and playing 30 to 40 percent of the snaps to returning from injury and barely playing. The Eagles signed Ndamukong Suh and Linval Joseph when Davis was out to improve the run defense, and the veterans took up a significant amount of playing time.
The snap-count percentage decreased to 10 to 25 percent when Davis returned to the field, part of a defensive tackle rotation with Suh, Joseph, Javon Hargrave and Fletcher Cox. Davis did play over 30 percent of the snaps in two postseason games, but the Eagles were up big in the second half in both those contests. He played just 10 defensive snaps in Super Bowl LVII.
“I’m going into this role now, more of a leadership role,” Davis said. “I’m starting to gain more confidence for me, myself, and everyone else. Everything we do now is to go in there 100% and know I can do it, we can do it together.”
Confidence is the biggest key to success in the NFL, something Davis learned throughout his trying rookie season. Davis started doubting his ability to play football, the same ability that made him a first-round pick in the first place.
“You’re coming up on the biggest stage of your life,” Davis said. “It’s the grandest stage in football. So obviously, people have, not only myself, have imposter syndrome. Just knowing that you’re here for a reason, they picked you for a reason, you’re here to stay. Just do whatever you can do get better. You just prepare your best and let everything take care of the rest.”
Davis worked on improving and conditioning throughout the spring in order to succeed at the highest level. Those results are paying off.
“You can see it on the tape,” Davis said. “When I watch practice, I’m more sure. I’m not really hesitant off the ball. I’m taking that first step, I’m taking my gather step.
“It’s just little things like that. It could be seconds or milliseconds difference but in this game, those milliseconds add up.”
The Eagles drafted Davis in the first round for a reason. The franchise is banking on him to take the next step in Year 2, especially with Javon Hargrave gone and Fletcher Cox in his mid-30s.
Confidence has been the biggest difference in Davis’ game. The results just have to translate to the field.