Jaguars DE Ryan Davis: "We're all aiming towards the same goal."

Bob Levey

As an undrafted free agent in 2012, Ryan Davis' rookie year was a series of moves back and forth between the practice squad and the active roster. But last year, the former Bethune-Cookman standout showed flashes. Now in his third year, can Davis secure a spot on the final 53-man roster?

Ryan Davis has played in seven games for the Jacksonville Jaguars and he's sealed the win in two of them -- both at the expense of the Houston Texans.

"The interception was a reaction. It's kind of one of those plays that you do in the backyard as a kid when you're pretending to be Deion Sanders or Ronde Barber. But with [the sack] I couldn't believe it initially when I first got up from the ground."

The Texans always play Jacksonville well in Houston. The Jaguars hadn't won in Reliant Stadium since 2009 and it looked like last year's game wouldn't be any easier.

In a low-scoring game that only saw one touchdown, Jacksonville was holding on to a six-point lead going into the final minutes. Texans quarterback Case Keenum was driving, using a no-huddle offense and intermediate passes to get down the field.

"That final drive was going to be a challenge and we all knew that stepping on the field, but we were confident we would get the job done that day. We knew we were going to get tired because of the no-huddle and that's what we prepare ourselves for -- to push even when you're getting a bit winded."

"At the start of each play, I was making sure I did my job for the guy next to me. We have to balance out all the rush lanes and keep contain on the quarterback, as well as keep pressure throughout the drive. We knew we would get a stop but I had no idea it would be in the form of an interception, and certainly not me getting it the way I did."

"I just made a 'backyard' type play and wanted to hold on to it as soon as my hand touched the ball. I just reached my hand out and tried my best to adjust to it. Luckily, the ball landed perfectly within my palm and I was able to cradle it with ease."

The second was the only nationally televised game for the team. The Jaguars dominated for most of the game, but the Texans still had a chance to tie on the final drive.

Enter Davis.

"Coach Todd Wash (defensive line coach) has been very very helpful in my development. That week, he was making corrections on how I should approach the tackle and use my hands and I just took the coaching from practice to the game."

"In that particular situation, you always want to rush well. Duane Brown, whom I have a ton of respect for, is an excellent player I consider him elite in this league and it's evident. He's a Pro Bowl and All-Pro player and I am up for that challenge any day."

"But I knew it was probably going to be a deep pass so I knew I had a little more time if I had to throw a second move. So I timed my hands perfect and got to the edge and my eyes got big."

"Coach Bob Babich made the perfect call because the back end had great coverage for us four to rush up front and without Andre [Branch] containing the edge and [Jason] Babin and [Sen'Derrick] Marks getting pressure up the middle, I wouldn't have had my first career sack. It's really a team effort."

But with the team -- especially the defensive line -- gelling as well as it did late in the season, how will a batch of incoming free agents like Chris Clemons and Ziggy Hood affect the group?

"It's been a very smooth transition. I think the locker room has had a boost in morale just because the guys coming in are so great and we're all aiming towards the same goal, which is to get better on a consistent basis."

And even with new players brought in, Davis has still received high marks from the Jaguars coaching staff. Head coach Gus Bradley even singled him out one day in particular, saying Davis and "guys like that have done a nice job."

However, Davis is just as excited at defensive coordinator Bob Babich's creativity as he is with praise from the head coach.

"He will get you fired up to play some ball. You can tell he has a genuine appreciation for the contribution of everyone and he, along with our other coaches, come up with some good stuff to help us get in position to make plays. I love it. It's exciting going into team and unit meetings to see what he's cooked up for us. He's creative in applying pressure and it shows."

In just two seasons, Davis has gone from undrafted free agent to practice squad to game-winning sacks and interceptions. But can he take the next step, earn a spot on the 53-man roster, and become a more regular part of the LEO rotation?

"I think if I prepare and compete my tail off during camp, I could do whatever the coaches ask of me. I've just been focusing on getting faster and stronger. I'm really excited to see what's in store for us in 2014."

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