ALLEN PARK — Most NFL rookies slowly work into their roles as starters.
Jarrad Davis, the Lions first-round pick, is not one of those rookies.
From the get-go, the starting middle linebacker has been a serious student of the game, a hard worker and has somehow in his short time with his teammates earned their respect.
“He’s not bashful about setting the defense, making calls, typically you have to prop them up to get it done. With him it comes naturally,’’ coach Jim Caldwell said. “It’s a nature versus nurture thing with him. This guy was born with it and he’s done a nice job so far.’’
Davis’ next challenge is at New York Giants on Monday Night Football. All eyes will be on the young linebacker.
Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin called Davis’ play in the win over the Cardinals “outstanding for a young guy.”
“He really flew around. Physical. Really he makes a difference in our defense in terms of our temperament and how we go, and that’s something that your middle linebacker should do because he’s really at the end of the day he’s the quarterback of your defense,’’ Austin said.
“He stands in front of our guys. He calls the defenses. No hesitation. He’s right up front. He’s right there, and our guys know he’s with them. And I thought he was productive,’’ Austin added. “Like all of us, there were things that we could do better last week, and that’s what our goal is this week. We want to be better than we were last week.”
Communication was not an issue for Davis which is a good thing since it is his job and if he doesn’t do it well the defense will flounder.
“He was fine. He was fine and he’s been working on that since Day One. I think that’s one of the reasons from Day One, we put him in front of the huddle. We knew this day would come, and so we wanted to make sure he was prepared and he was ready for it,’’ Austin said.
This is not an easy role for a rookie or any young player regardless of draft status.
Davis talked about leadership and how he works at it on the night in April that he was drafted by Detroit.
One of the reasons he was so desirable to the Lions is his maturity and work ethic. That has not changed since his arrival in Detroit.
“He’s really first one in, last-one-out type of guy and so, I think our veterans respect that type of work ethic, and they gravitate to a guy like that,’’ Austin said.