Under Pressure: Davis a 'game wrecker' on Ticats D-line
Fresh off of a Grey Cup Championship, and his best personal season, Ja’Gared Davis didn’t show up to training camp with his new team demanding to get into the starting lineup right away.
Instead, the 28-year-old defensive end is approaching camp like any other newcomer would and is competing for a spot.
“Ja’Gared Davis is a champion,” Ticats head coach Orlondo Steinauer said last week after the team’s fourth day of training camp. “He’s got a great attitude, a great work ethic. He’s definitely disruptive, he’s a game wrecker. He’s going to turn into a leader but he’s more of a lead by example guy. He’s been a great addition. He’s been competing, he doesn’t feel entitled to anything.”
That team-first mentality is something that Davis has always implemented in his football career. What’s best for us? Not, what’s best for me?
“I’m a team player first,” said Davis, fresh off of the field after Hamilton’s second practice of the day last Wednesday. “Wherever I see fit, or wherever I can put my input in there and boost the morale here, then that’s what I’ll do. We have great leaders on this team, I’m just trying to come in and add to it and push this team to the next level and help them get to a Grey Cup.”
Davis decided to hit the free agent market in February and test the waters to see what else was out there. The Tiger-Cats came knocking and signed the six-foot-one, 238-pounder to a deal one day after his contract with the Stampeders expired.
“It felt like a home,” said Davis, explaining why he signed with the black and gold. “It felt like another home to me. I’m so big on family and everything and that made me feel just like I was part of this great organization and part of this family. It was like a no brainer for me.”
The Texas native is coming off a championship season that featured a career-high in tackles (59). He also collected seven sacks, two interceptions, a touchdown and two forced fumbles. Over his three-year career with the Stampeders, Davis has tallied 123 defensive tackles, three special teams tackles, 23 sacks, three interceptions, two major scores and seven forced fumbles.
That production and selfless attitude has been a welcome addition to Hamilton’s locker room just a week into training camp.
“He’s able to do a lot of things not only in the run game but in the pass game,” said fellow defensive end and teammate Jamaal Westerman. “He’s very fluid, he’s very twitchy. He’s a guy that always seems to be around the ball. He’s a guy that’s always making plays. Just watching throughout the years. You seem him out here, he’s coming out here to work and to learn.”
The Ticats will hope their biggest free agency pick up will add some much-needed pressure to opposing quarterbacks this season. In 2018, Hamilton was second last in the league in sacks (31) and takeaways.
With a new defensive coordinator in Mark Washington, the Tabbies have the potential to unleash havoc from their front four. The Washington-led defence in BC last season featured two players in the top 10 in sacks – Odell Willis (11) and Davon Coleman (8) – and the team as a whole was tied for first in the league with 45.
Along with Westerman, Adrian Tracy (who had a nine-sack season in 2017) and All-Star Ted Laurent saw action on the defensive line last year. Add in Davis and Dylan Wynn (who tallied eight sacks in 25 games with the Argos) and you may have a winning combination to disrupt any pivot lining up against them.
“That’s the thing, this D-line, they probably don’t get that much as much credit as they deserve,” said Davis. “They have great players across the board. I just want to come and just contribute and be an addition to what’s already been put in here.
“No matter if it’s getting to the quarterback, forcing a turnover or creating havoc or creating ball disruption across the field, that’s all I want to do.”