The Continued Dominance of Colts CB Vontae Davis

For the first time, Davis shadowed a top receiver last week. How did that come about?

INDIANAPOLIS --- Vontae Davis was already considered one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, but in the season-opener at Buffalo he graduated to a new level of dominance.

For the first time, Davis switched from being a corner that played on one side of the field (right corner, to be specific) to shadowing the opposing team's #1 receiver all game long.

"I didn't evolve...It's nothing I really (asked) to do," said Davis Thursday about whether shadowing specific receivers is something he wanted to add to his game. "It's just Coach Pagano, he wanted to move me around and match me up with people. So, I just took the challenge."

Challenge accepted and mission accomplished. Two targets for Bills receiver Sammy Watkins...and zero receptions.

"It's different because you can just study one guy and try to figure out their strengths and weaknesses and try and focus on that one (receiver). You still have to play within the game, but you're going against an individual," said Davis about his preparation for week 1 compared to last season.

"Instead of me studying formations or different guys I'm going to match up with, multiple guys or guys that would just play the right side, I have to study (one) guy," said Davis. "See what he's going to do on the left and also the right. It's just a little more work you have to do, as far as preparation. It's different."

Davis hasn't allowed a touchdown since week 14 of the 2013 season. That streak is now up to 25 consecutive games (including postseason) entering Monday night against the Jets. Davis blanketing top receivers though still may not be an every week assignment in 2015.

"It'll change from week to week," said Davis. "It's just the game plan, the coaches. Whatever they want me to do. Every team is different. We try to figure out their scheme and try to adjust to what they want to do," explained Davis.  "You never know. I might be matched up with tight ends. You never know what the coach wants me to do."

And if Davis doesn't know until that week if he's shadowing a receiver, shadowing a tight end, or playing one side of the field, the opponent won't know either.

In this chess-like game of football, Davis has become the most powerful piece on his side of the board, moving almost anywhere he wants. That's a scary thought for quarterbacks, after they only threw for a 38.8 passer rating on balls in the direction of Vontae Davis. No corner was better in 2014 in that statistic.

 

But Davis is still humble. When asked who the best cornerbacks are in the league, he didn't mention himself.

"There's a lot of good players. You've got (Jets cornerback Darrelle) Revis, (Seahawks cornerback Richard) Sherman, (Cardinals cornerback) Patrick Peterson," said Davis. "I'm pretty sure all the guys out there think they're the best in the league at their position. That's no knock on them. You should have that mindset."

Davis didn't mention himself, but when asked if he does consider himself in that same group of top cornerbacks, he didn't hesitate.

"Of course, yeah," said Davis. "I think I'm in that group, with the top echelon of Revis and Sherman. They are two of the great players. It's a very good group of good players."

Now Davis and Revis will play on the same field Monday night in the Colts' home opener against the Jets. That's definitely somebody Davis has watched for years. Revis was already in the league for two years, when Davis was a rookie in 2009.

"He's one of the guys I looked up to, I watched coming into the league," said Davis of Revis. "I still watch. I think he's a phenomenal player. He's a great role model for a defensive back who wants to learn the position."

For Davis, there's one aspect of his game he also sees in Revis.

"Size wise, he's strong," said Davis. "As far as strength and physicality, I think we're both physical. He's a strong guy as far as handling receivers, pressing receivers."

Davis will again carry that streak of games without allowing a touchdown to Lucas Oil Stadium Stadium Monday night. Will he blanket another receiver again, like Brandon Marshall or Eric Decker?

Either way, "Vontae's Corner" is on lockdown.

 

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