Whether its needed in replacement of Jordan Reed or simply being the No. 2 tight end, Vernon Davis has proven to be a smart pickup for the Redskins this season.
Washington Redskins tight end Vernon Davis has shown no signs of slowing down during his aged 32 season and his hometown team is feeling the benefits of this.
Despite winning a Super Bowl with the Denver Broncos in February, the 2015 season was perhaps Davis' worst as a professional. But being in Washington has given the athletic tight end new legs to an already productive NFL career.
"I feel like the older I get the better I get," said a smiling Davis on Wednesday. "I feel like I'm just starting, I'm just getting started. I can still run. I tell everyone the same thing: when I lose my speed then I'll hang it up. But I still have my speed. I can still run, run well. With that, I can continue to play this game."
Even though Davis is the Redskins' No. 2 tight end option behind the 26-year-old Jordan Reed, the two-time Pro Bowler's output has been better than a majority of tight ends in the NFL today.
Through 11 games, Davis is currently 14th in receiving yards among tight ends (450) and he's one of only four tight ends with at least 10 20-plus yard receptions.
That's a far cry from his 2015 season when he was struggling with the San Francisco 49ers in his final months with the team that drafted him and had difficult learning the Broncos' complex playbook on the fly.
"Over the years, [my] production declined and when the production's not there, everyone starts to worry," Davis said. "They're like, 'Hey guys, we need to figure it out. Can Vernon still play?' But that's to be expected, and for me, I just continue to be optimistic, keep playing football and having fun and falling in love with the game all over again."
The Washington Redskins announced on Thursday, March 31, 2016, the signing of free agent tight end Vernon Davis. Here's a gallery of photos from his career.
He's clicked with quarterback Kirk Cousins – a player Davis has likened to future first-ballot Pro Football Hall of Famer Peyton Manning -- from the moment the two met.
"From the day he showed up, I think I've said this before, at a high school in April we were throwing and I realized right away this guy can still play and I'm still trying to figure out what the catch is or why two teams let him go," Cousins said. "Not only can he still run—I don't know what his 40 would be now, but elite, elite. I mean the forty of an elite wide receiver. He can block, he's smart, he's a great teammate, he's a good mentor for a guy like Jordan I mean the list goes on and on of these positives.
"It's just been a joy to play with him and have him on the team. And with the injuries that Jordan's sustained, he's become even more valuable needing to step up and just be a difference make. So just thrilled that Scot [McCloughan] would have the foresight to bring him in and it proved to be a really smart move."
Davis said he knew that Cousins was "a special guy" on the day they swapped introductions.
"He's awesome," Davis said. "The Christian values he has – he's a God-fearing man. I'm totally all about that. When you have a guy like that, you can't do anything but respect him, respect what he brings to the team. His value is unprecedented because of who is he as a person and a player."
Davis hopes his special season continues this Sunday against an Arizona Cardinals team he's very familiar with, facing the defending NFC West champions 17 times during his career while collecting nine touchdowns in those appearances.
In his NFL debut on Sept. 10, 2006, against the Cardinals, the University of Maryland product hauled in five receptions for 37 yards and a touchdown.
But this version of the Cardinals' defense has been exceptional against tight ends, not allowing a single touchdown to the position this season.
"On film, it seems as if they're playing together," Davis said. "They're having fun, they're flying around and they're making plays. And they're a good defensive unit. They play well together. You can't take that away from them. They're playing really well together and they're playing at a high level. With that being said, they're going to be a good matchup for us. A great team to go up against and some strong competitors."