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Interview: Washington Football LB Thomas Davis

ASHBURN, VA -- August 14, 2020, Washington Football Team linebacker Thomas Davis speaks to the media.

On working with a new team and linebacker corps:

“It’s been fun. It’s been a great opportunity for us to come together as a group and just really get to know one another’s personality and see how we can fit within the scheme of this defense and just go out and compete hard.”

On if working with Head Coach Ron Rivera was the biggest factor in his decision to come to Washington:

“That’s one of the biggest factors. You have some other teams that are interested, and you just try to weigh your options. Being able to come back on the east coast and being able to reconnect with Coach Rivera, [linebackers coach Steve] Russ, and all of the guys that I know on this staff, it was definitely something that I wanted to be a part of. I wanted to be a part of a group that came here and really changed the culture of what’s been going on in Washington.”

On playing within a new culture:

“Whenever anything is new, you have a core group of guys that have been here, that have been within one system for a long time, you’re going to always face challenges trying to get guys to buy in. That’s one thing Coach Rivera has been really good on all the different levels that he’s been on and the different teams he’s gotten guys to buy in. I don’t see it being any different here. I’m just here to help that process in any way that I can.”

On LB Reuben Foster:

“Reuben is a physical specimen. I was telling somebody the other day you have people who are born to play a position. When you look at Reuben, he’s one of those guys. I feel like he was born to play the linebacker spot. Just seeing him make progress each and every day has truly been special. As a guy who has his own rehab story, to see Reuben being able to do the things he’s doing day in and day out, I’m extremely impressed and I’m excited for him.”

On quarantine during the offseason:

“The hardest part is really not having that structure that you’re so used to and so accustomed to. At certain points, like in April, you get back with the team and you start working out and you transition into OTAs and Mini Camp and that whole process. Not having that structure, it was tough. It was different. It was something in the COVID world that we’re all dealing with, we just had to get used to it.”

On differences between Rivera’s approach in Carolina and Washington:

“You can’t approach every situation the same. Obviously, that was Carolina, and we’re in Washington right here now. Each step, each phase has its different challenges. Coach Rivera is a guy—he knows how to attack those challenges. He understands that this is a much different dynamic in the world that we’re in right know. When you’re dealing with COVID, you have to worry about making sure guys are doing what they’re supposed to do when it comes to COVID, while also being able to establish the culture and the things that he likes to do from a coaching standpoint defensively, offensively and on special teams. Right now more so than ever it takes veteran leaders to step up and help that process along the way, and I feel like when you look across the board, across this team, we have a core group of guys that are capable of helping Coach get that done. I just want to be one of those guys.”

On Rivera leaning on veteran players:

“He’s always been a coach that listens. He listens to voices, he listens to veteran guys. Being a guy that played the game, he understands what players are going through during different stages of the game and throughout the process of the season. So, he understands and he gets it so he listens to his players. So far, I’ve seen him do that as well here.”

On LB Kevin Pierre-Louis:

“He’s extremely explosive. He’s fast, he’s physical. He has all of the qualities, all of the tools. He’s a guy that I could see in this defense making a ton of plays and I’m excited to see K.P.L work. He’s extremely humble. He’s a guy who comes in every day, does his job. He’s not afraid to ask questions and he’s going to be a great piece for this defense.”

On QB Dwayne Haskins:

“I’ve only had an opportunity really to be around him in the workout phase. Being able to be around him and get to know him, he has an infectious personality. I think he’s a guy that can definitely lead a team. I’m excited to have him at the helm right now. We haven’t had an opportunity to compete against one another because we’re still in the first phase of this thing. Next week when we’re able to get together I’ll have a really better assessment of what he’s capable of doing. So far, I can definitely say he’s done everything that’s been asked of him.”

On his leadership style:

“I was fortunate enough when I got to the Carolina Panthers when I was drafted, I had a ton of veteran leadership around me. I kind of watched how those guys maneuver, how they carry themselves. As the years go on, you just learn how you want to lead. I don’t want to be one of those people that’s always coming in and talking to people and telling them, ‘Hey you need to do this, you need to do that,’ when I’m not willing to do those things on my own. You take that approach of leading by example, not being afraid to step up and talk and speak when something needs to be said or just going in and doing your job day in and day out. I think guys tend to follow people that are consistent in this league or this game and that’s something that I’ve tried to be for a long time, try to maintain consistent in my approach.”

On giving Foster advice throughout his rehab:

“I try to talk to Reuben as much as I possibly can. He’s done a tremendous job [Head athletic trainer Ryan Vermillion] and his staff, they’re doing a great job with him. Reuben, he’s excited, man. He’s energetic, he’s up-tempo. He’s always just ready to get back on the field as much as he possibly can when he was that opportunity. I was happy to hear him being taken of PUP and getting that opportunity. He’s just out there working hard and we’re just trying to constantly encourage him to continue to fight, continue to work and just let the chips fall where they may at the end of the day.”

On the shortened offseason affecting tackling:

“I don’t think it’s going to be that big of an issue. If you look at the preseason last year, a lot of teams didn’t play starters in the preseason for whatever reason. They sat their starters down. You didn’t have a really big drop off in tackling. I think once you get to this level, coaches do a great job of coaching how to tackle and the necessary things to do. I think tackling really comes down to a want-to. You’re either going to want to do it or you’re going to not.”

On Rivera’s ability to lead through challenges:

“I think when you look at Coach Rivera, his coaching style is one of the things that really stands out to me. He’s not a coach that sits back and points fingers at his players when things don’t go well. He takes responsibility. He encourages the players to do the same whenever things go wrong and that’s kind of who he is. When you look at him coming over and kind of taking this situation over and everything that has gone on within this organization, I feel like he’s kind of doing something similar in Carolina. When we had the situation with our owner in Carolina, he kind of had to step up and be the face of that and not shy away from it. That’s something I’ve seen him do in this situation and that’s the kind of leader Coach Rivera is. He’s going to always encourage his players to do the right things at all times. He stands behind anything he tells you, so you can respect a guy like that.”

On the release of RB Derrius Guice:

“I think it sends a message not only within this organization and this team, but across the league in how things are going to be done and how things should be done. As players, we’ve got to take responsibility for our actions. We’ve got to understand situations that we can get involved in and that we shouldn’t be involved in ever. That’s one of the things you should take from a situation like that. It’s kind of hard to speak on Guice’s situation because I wasn’t there and I don’t really know him all that well personally, but I just hope that whatever happens in that situation, that everybody involved learned from it.”

On if he considering opting out of the season due to COVID-19:

“There was a lot of thought that went into this whole pandemic thing, but when you look at the way that the NFL and the NFLPA are handling things and making sure that guys are safe with the stuff that we have to do on a daily basis, you become a lot more comfortable as a player. For me, with this potentially being the end of the road for me, it was never a decision or a chance to opt out for me.”

On working with defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio:

“I think just being around Coach Del Rio, being around him, getting to know him, he has a fiery personality. He’s the kind of guy that is all about coming together, continuity on defense and guys doing their jobs day in and day out. Just developing that consistency. When you have a coach like that, as a player you get excited about playing for him because he’s excited about the game and he’s excited about the things that we’re going to be doing as a football team. For me, it’s all about figuring out where I can help best. Wherever the coach has asked me to be, that’s where I want to be. That’s what I want to do. That’s my focus right now. It’s never been about Thomas Davis coming in and being the man. I just want to come in and help this defense succeed as much as possible. Wherever they ask me to do that at, that’s what I’m going to do.”

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