OPPORTUNITY AT HAND

While Buster Davis, a former third-round selection in the NFL Draft, never has started an NFL game - and while he said there have been disappointing times in his NFL career - he said none of that means he won't be prepared to fill his role on Sunday.

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Davis Likely Will Make First NFL Start at Middle Linebacker Sunday
INDIANAPOLIS – Suddenly, Buster Davis' wait is over. At last.

But Davis, a second-year linebacker from Florida State University who will make his first NFL start on Sunday against Cincinnati, said to make no mistake:

No, he never has started an NFL game.

No, he hasn't been active in recent weeks.

And yes, the past two years have been frustrating.

But while Davis, a former third-round selection in the NFL Draft, said all that is true, and while he said there have been disappointing times in his NFL career, he said none of that means he won't be prepared to fill his role on Sunday.

"It's definitely a blessing," Davis said Thursday as the Colts (8-4) prepared to play the Cincinnati Bengals (1-10-1) at Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis Sunday at 1 p.m.

"It's something I've been waiting on a long time. I'm just happy that it's here. I'm just going to take full advantage of it."

Davis, a third-round selection in the 2007 Draft by the Arizona Cardinals, joined the Colts shortly before the season off waivers from the Detroit Lions, where he spent much of last season on the practice squad after being released by Arizona shortly before the season.

Davis, who played in one game for the Detroit last season, has been active in two games for the Colts this season and has played in two as a reserve.

"He'll do fine," Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy said. "Buster played a lot of football at Florida State, and played in a lot of big games."

Asked if it was difficult to not have played much of the season, Davis smiled.

"Heck right it's tough," he said, laughing. "I thought when I got cut from Arizona it was a humbling experience. Then, you go to Detroit and get cut again. That's even more humbling. But to actually be on a roster and not playing, it's something you don't ever want to go through.

"But it has done nothing but prepare me for this Sunday and for the rest of the season. It's going to be something you all are going to want to watch."

Dungy also said Davis' experience last season in Detroit, which runs a scheme similar to the 4-3, "Tampa 2"defense run by the Colts, should help.

"He has been around this system," Dungy said. "He was in Detroit. He understands what we're doing. He hasn't gotten much of a chance to play in the last two years, but he'll do fine. . . .

"It's funny. Sometimes, it's opunity. It's getting a chance. Some guys really do blossom in certain situations. You never really know, but I know that's one great thing about (Colts President) Bill Polian, is he has a great knack for visualizing guys who fit what we do."

Davis' opportunity arose in the wake of an injury this past Sunday to middle linebacker Gary Brackett.

Brackett, the Colts' defensive captain, sustained a fibula injury early in the second quarter of the Colts' 10-6 victory over the Cleveland Browns. With Davis inactive, weakside linebacker Freddy Keiaho moved inside, but with outside linebacker Tyjuan Hagler also hampered with a knee injury, Dungy said this week Keiaho likely will remain outside with Davis moving from backup to starter in the middle.

"The thing about it is, it's not really just doing the job for him (Brackett)," Davis said. "It's doing it for myself. It's doing it for this team. It's trying to get this team to the playoffs, and eventually, going to the Super Bowl. It's always been in me. It's just opportunity – right place, right time.

"Right now is the opportunity that has been given to me and I'm going to take full advantage of it."

Working with Brackett the past three months should help the transition to the starting lineup, Davis said.

"For 12 weeks, I've been studying behind him and learning all the nooks and crannies about this whole defense, and how they run it here," Davis said. "Cover 2 is run differently on every team. It's a test, really. I've been doing the homework throughout the whole season.

"This is pretty much going to be the test of how well-prepared I am."

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