Vontae Davis To Malik Hooker: 'Don't Ever Leave Your First Ball!'

Intro: While he’s been sidelined with a groin injury, Vontae Davis has remained a leader for a young Indianapolis Colts secondary. His advice has extended as far as proper etiquette for your first interception, which was helpful on Sunday for rookie safety Malik Hooker.

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INDIANAPOLIS — As cheers rained down from the Lucas Oil Stadium crowd, Vontae Davis approached the hero of the moment, safety Malik Hooker, with additional congratulations — but also a critique.

"Malik, this is your first pick," Davis told his rookie teammate. "Don't ever leave your first ball!"

Hooker, the Colts' 2017 first-round draft pick (15th overall), had just completed his first career NFL interception by snagging a Carson Palmer throw at the Colts three-yard line and returning the ball 32 yards to the 35.

The rookie had done everything perfectly, reading the veteran Palmer, anticipating the pass and sprinting over to the corner of the field before timing his jump and collecting the overthrown ball. But amidst the celebration of his first big NFL moment, Hooker committed a fist-interception cardinal sin, Davis told reporters on Wednesday.

"He forgot the ball, so I got on him about being his first pick," David said. "So he went back and got it. Somebody – I think (Rashaan) Melvin got the ball for him."

Davis has spent much of the past month trying to mentor a whole flock of young secondary teammates, like rookies Quincy Wilson, Nate Hairston and Hooker, as well as second-year safety T.J. Green, who has been tasked with making a transition over to cornerback, as well.

"I've been the leader on the back end, helping the young guys any way I can," Davis said. "I just give them all the insight I can, so that they can improve week in and week out."

This insight even includes post-interception etiquette, apparently.

Davis realizes how special this moment was for Hooker. He's racked up 22 interceptions during his nine-year career, but, he still remembers his fist pick well.

He was in his rookie year with Miami in 2009, and the play came in the second quarter of a Week 4 win for the Dolphins over the Buffalo Bills. Bills quarterback Trent Edwards fired a short pass intended for wide receiver Josh Reed.

"I knew it was an out route, and I just jumped underneath and ran into the end zone."

Davis jumped the route and ran the ball back 23-yards for a touchdown.

"I remember it like yesterday," Davis said. "It's your first one, so no matter how long (ago) it was, I'm always going to remember my first pick."

And, of course, Davis had the good sense to hang on to that football afterwards.

"It's at home somewhere," he said with a smile. "I've got it in my archives."

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