Davis signed a one-year tender last April as a restricted free agent, and was supposed to test the open market to see if he could find starting time over his status in 2008 as Atlanta's third end behind John Abraham and Jamaal Anderson. But with Anderson having proven to be a disappointment, it's entirely possible that Davis may get his starting time in Atlanta.
A fourth-round pick in 2005 out of Florida State, the 6-2, 274-pound Davis proved to be valuable down the stretch for the Falcons in 2008 when Abraham was hurt and Andersno slid inside to tackle for certain downs. Davis recorded two sacks against the Panthers on November 25 and recovered two fumbles against the Vikings on December 22 -- both games were wins, as Atlanta went 5-1 in their last six regular-season games.
I detailed Davis' exploits against the Denver Broncos in mid-November, when the Falcons appeared to be keeping Abraham away from dominant rookie left tackle Ryan Clady:
Davis replaced Biermann on the next play, an 18-yard completion to Royal, and all Clady had to do was to push Davis back three times at the line of scrimmage. Davis couldn't even pursue.
It was Groundhog Day for Davis through the third quarter, as the Falcons were limited by Abraham's absence. Time after time, Davis would try a move head-on -- time after time, he was turned back at the point. The only vulnerability I saw from Clady in this game was a tendency to keep slipping back behind the quarterback when pass-blocking, something that Davis exploited a couple of times for pressures by disengaging and using a surprising ability to change direction to get after Cutler. Otherwise, Davis was sunk and he knew it.
Jamaal Anderson wasn't any more effective when he tried Clady with 9:46 left in the game. Clady fanned Anderson out of Cutler's vicinity with textbook technique, and Cutler was able to get a pretty 47-yard pass off to Brandon Marshall on the drive that won the game for Denver. All Cutler had to do was to take one step up, and he had enough time to hit Marshall, who was his third read. Who was the end on the other side? None other than John Abraham, back in the game but a long way from Clady.
The Falcons were up against an immoveable object in Clady, but I liked Davis' persistence and his ability to pursue off blocks. With the Falcons in need of several defensive replacements, re-signing Davis is an important step forward for a team now expected to contend.
Doug Farrar is the Publisher of FalconInsider.com. You can also find his work on Football Outsiders, ESPN.com, the Washington Post, and the Seattle Times. Feel free to contact Doug here.