Davis: Re­united team­mate Smith has el­e­vated his game

The Washington Times Daily - - SPORTS - BY MATTHEW PARAS

Ver­non Davis and Alex Smith have spent al­most as much time apart as they were to­gether. The tight end-quar­ter­back duo spent six years with the San Fran­cisco 49ers, but they’ve been on dif­fer­ent teams for the last five sea­sons.

Over those years, Davis has kept a close eye on Smith — and he’s ex­cited to pair with him, again.

The Red­skins be­gan the start of their off­sea­son pro­gram Mon­day, re­unit­ing Davis and Smith for the first time since the quar­ter­back’s trade to the Red­skins in Jan­uary.

“His game has el­e­vated dra­mat­i­cally,” Davis said. “And I say that be­cause of his abil­ity to get in and out of the pocket, he’s get­ting the ball down­field, he’s just plac­ing the ball where it needs to be and he’s do­ing it ef­fec­tively.”

In San Fran­cisco, Davis was Smith’s most re­li­able tar­get. They had a solid chem­istry, and even­tu­ally made two play­off runs when Jim Har­baugh was hired in 2011.

It will take time for Smith to build a sim­i­lar con­nec­tion with the rest of his new team­mates. The vol­un­tary work­outs are the first start of that process.

At the team’s fa­cil­ity in Ashburn, play­ers took phys­i­cals, did some run­ning and par­tic­i­pated in some foot­ball-re­lated ac­tiv­ity. Smith was of­fi­cially able to get his hands on a play­book, which could be tweaked to suit his strengths.

Red­skins coach Jay Gru­den has al­ready been open about his de­sire to tai­lor the of­fense to­ward Smith. On Mon­day, Davis said he ex­pects the coach­ing staff to put Smith in the best po­si­tion to suc­ceed.

That should in­clude call­ing plays that will al­low Smith to ex­tend out­side

the pocket.

“That’s go­ing to be tremen­dous for us and it’s im­per­a­tive that we have that be­cause, you know, this game is all about how ef­fec­tive you can be,” Davis said. “If you can sus­tain plays then that’s good, that’s great, be­cause that al­lows the re­ceivers to get open when ev­ery­one else thinks the play is dead and we can still keep go­ing.”

The Red­skins are count­ing on both play­ers for 2018.

Davis will be the team’s sec­ondary tight end be­hind oft-in­jured Jor­dan Reed. In the off­sea­son, Davis will see the ma­jor­ity of snaps with Reed re­cov­er­ing from a toe in­jury and not ex­pected to be ready un­til train­ing camp.

Smith, of course, will look to pro­vide sta­bil­ity to the team’s most im­por­tant po­si­tion. He signed a four-year, $94 mil­lion ($71 mil­lion guar­an­teed) ex­ten­sion to go along with the trade.

Davis watched as Smith pro­gressed in San Fran­cisco. Smith, the first over­all pick in 2005, had a tur­bu­lent start to his NFL ca­reer, with seven dif­fer­ent of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tors and three head coaches with the 49ers.

But Smith ex­celled under Har­baugh. And Smith con­tin­ued to per­form under Andy Reid in Kansas City. Last sea­son, the 33-year-old had a ca­reer year, throw­ing for 4,042 yards.

In March, Smith said he was ex­cited to play with Davis again, adding the tight end was one of the first peo­ple to reach out to him.

“It was like ic­ing on the cake,” Smith said. “Cer­tainly I’ve known Ver­non a long time, both young guys in this league to­gether and spent a lot of years to­gether. ... He’s such a unique guy, such a great team­mate and friend so I’m look­ing for­ward to be­ing around with him again.”

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