Marcus Davenport looks to make a difference in second year with Saints

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Nelson Agholar, Marcus Davenport, Jason Peters
(Photo: Parker Waters)

The New Orleans Saints surrendered their first and fifth round picks in the 2018 NFL Draft plus their top pick in the 2019 draft to acquire the opportunity to select Marcus Davenport. With that much involved, the microscope has been focused on the 6-foot-6, 265-pound defensive end who enters his second NFL season with great expectations on a Super Bowl contender.

During his days at UTSA, Davenport tallied 186 tackles, 22 sacks and 38 tackles for loss in setting school records and wreaking havoc in Conference-USA. He was viewed as a player with tremendous upside while requiring some patience in his development despite his physical gifts. His stats indicate that he improved each season in college despite facing double and triple team blocking.

Davenport drew some attention at the 2018 Senior Bowl and ran an impressive 4.58 forty with other elite testing figures at the Indianapolis Combine.

Once he steps between the stripes, he shows no quit. Davenport is not relying on his physical abilities alone. That’s something you can’t teach.

“Everyday I have to improve on things. It’s all a process,” Davenport explained. “Right now I’m concentrating on going fast and playing my game, trusting my eyes.”

He landed as a wide eyed rookie, but Davenport has a better feel for what to expect as he prepares for the rigors of his second pro season. He feels more confident in his abilities.

“Confidence comes from preparation,” he said. “Once you feel certified in your preparation , you can exude it. That’s an important key. Sometimes you work on things. It just takes one time for you to believe in it.”

His preparation does not include trying to copy others. Davenport embraces his own unique skill set, both the strangths and areas where he needs to improve.

“I felt like I was different. Other players did things fluently. I felt like I had to adapt, find how to do it. I would watch a lot of players and pick up little things and adapt it to my style. I never thought of myself as someone who was athletic, just someone who worked hard.”

Help from experienced pros has helped, of course. Two players who have been instrumental in helping to shape him as an NFL players are Cameron Jordan and former teammate Alex Okafor. “The whole time, they have been the best coaches and teammates,” Davenport stressed emphatically. “They have lifted me up. When I was negative I could always talk to them, lean on them.”

A toe injury last season impeded his progress, causing him to miss three games as a rookie. When he came back, Davenport was not quite at full strength. His career high was a pair of sacks against the Minnesota Vikings but he eyes more performances like that one in his second year.

The Saints have the highest of expectations, and only a Super Bowl will meet them. UTSA struggled to find consistent success during Marcus’ tenure, finishing with 19 victories in 48 contests. “Anytime I did something special in college, we lost,” he recalled with a sheepish grin. That is unlikely to be the case for New Orleans.

He has taken on both the mental and physical challenges of pro football, but Marcus admits it’s how you handle things between the ears that is most important.

“The mental portion was more difficult. Not things that I necessarily hadn’t seen before, but sometimes with injuries or uncertainties, sometimes the pressure, you begin to second guess yourself. I had to stop second guessing myself and trust my coaches, my staff and myself. I have to just trust the position that I was put in.”

Marcus Davenport is in position to be a star and make a difference on a title contending team. The 2019 season will be an interesting journey for both Davenport and the Saints.

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Rene Nadeau

Rene Nadeau

CCS/Fox Sports/ESPN/WFAN

Born and raised in the New Orleans area, Rene Nadeau has been involved in sports ever since his earliest memories. Rene played basketball, wrestled, ran track, and was an All-District running back in football at John F. Kennedy High School. He went on to be a member of the LSU football program, developing a passion for the game in even…

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