Demario Davis joins Saints’ OTAs with “my fire blazing higher than ever”
METAIRIE – The New Orleans Saints had 80 of their 89 players on hand for the start of OTAs last week.
Head coach Dennis Allen said he was hopeful that additional players would arrive for subsequent OTAs. He got a major addition this week when linebacker Demario Davis joined the workouts.
Davis, a team captain and the Saints’ leading tackler for each of his four seasons with the team, was on the field as New Orleans began its second week of OTAs on Tuesday.
He’s the team’s oldest player at age 34, but said, “My fire is blazing higher than ever.”
Davis, a native of Brandon, Mississippi, who played at Arkansas State and for the Jets and the Browns before signing with New Orleans as a free agent, has become one of the team’s most popular players and arguably the face of the franchise since quarterback Drew Brees retired after the 2020 season.
“You think you know what it means to play in New Orleans and be a part of this culture and be a part of Who Dat Nation,” Davis said, “but the longer you’re here the more it becomes ingrained in you. I think my love for this city and this team is as high as it’s ever been.
“I want to give my best for this locker room and these guys, but I want to give my best for this city and I feel really excited about the offseason moves that have been made. I’m really excited about the defense and how we finished last season and where we can go. I’m really excited from the offense and special team standpoint.”
Of course the biggest offseason move was the signing of free agent quarterback Derek Carr to try and stabilize a position that has been limited by injuries in the two seasons since Brees’ retirement.
Davis and Carr practiced together for the first time Tuesday and the quarterback made an impression on the linebacker even though the work is limited by the absence of pads and meaningful contact.
“In my first practice you can already see how he ignites that offense and how he’s taking control,” Davis said. “It seems like they have a lot things over there where he’s comfortable and able to move the offense. You can see how excited the guys on that side of the ball are.
“He came over asking me questions and somebody who thinks about the game in that way is going to (make it) interesting for us (to compete against each other).”
Jon Gruden, who was Carr’s head coach with the Raiders from 2018 until he resigned during the 2021 season, attended Saints practices last week and met with the offensive coaches and quarterbacks.
“Jon’s a guy that has a lot of experience with Derek and Derek has had his most success under Jon Gruden,” Allen said. “So we felt like bringing him in, having a chance to sit down and visit with him and just get some new thoughts and ideas, things that we might be able to implement.
“I don’t see us putting in a whole new offense or doing something dramatic but if there’s a few ideas that we could take from that would be beneficial.”
Allen said the Saints “practiced like a team that had been off four days” Tuesday.
“The ball was on the ground more than it was previously,” he added. “That had zero to do with effort. Our guys were working hard. I just don’t think the execution was quite where we needed it to be.”
Allen said he was confident the Saints would “clean up” the mistakes and have more efficient practices Wednesday and Thursday, which will be closed to the media, to conclude the week.
“(But) we’re in a race to improve versus 31 other teams,” Allen said. “So you don’t want to see any of these opportunities slide by.”
The Saints will have their third and final week of voluntary OTAs next Tuesday-Thursday. A mandatory minicamp June 12-15 will be the team’s final work before taking a break ahead of training camp, which begins in late July.
Safety J.T. Gray joined Davis as a participant Tuesday that wasn’t on the field last week.
Players who were absent from Tuesday’s practice after being on the field last Tuesday were safety Tyrann Mathieu, cornerbacks Paulson Adebo, Bradley Roby and Lonnie Johnson Jr., defensive tackle Nathan Shepherd and wide receivers Tre’Quan Smith and James Washington.
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Les East is a nationally renowned freelance journalist. The New Orleans area native’s blog on SportsNOLA.com was named “Best Sports Blog” in 2016 by the Press Club of New Orleans. For 2013 he was named top sports columnist in the United States by the Society of Professional Journalists. He has since become a valued contributor for CCS. The Jesuit High…