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August 28, 2012

Colts coach foresees good things for new DB

Davis hopes to leave issues behind as he joins Colts

INDIANAPOLIS — A fresh start.

That’s what Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano is hoping for with former University of Illinois cornerback Vontae Davis, who was acquired in a trade with the Miami Dolphins on Sunday afternoon.

Davis, a first-round pick by Miami in 2009, comes to the Colts with some on-field and off-field issues on his resume. He had been relegated to the Dolphins’ second-team defensive unit after reporting to the team’s training camp out of shape.

The Washington, D.C., native also reportedly didn’t mesh with Miami’s new coaching staff as the defense was switching from a 3-4 to a 4-3 scheme. And then there were also reports from past seasons of Davis once showing up drunk for a team walk-through and of an altercation with former Dolphins wide receiver Brandon Marshall.

All those red flags, however, did not deter Indianapolis’s interest in the multi-talented defensive back. According to Pagano, Davis just may be the cure for some of the Colts’ ills at the cornerback position.

“We live in a great country, and this country is all about second chances. We’ve all made mistakes in our life and stubbed our toe here and there. So this is a great opportunity for, not only us, but a great opportunity for Vontae,” the Indianapolis coach said Monday.

“It’s a fresh start, a new beginning if you will. This organization, from top down, has all the support in place to help Vontae succeed both on the field and off the field. He’s going to do great things here, not only on the football field but in this community.”

What may very well help smooth the transition for Davis is his relationship with Pagano, with fellow cornerbacks Jerraud Powers and Brandon King and with free safety Antoine Bethea.

The Colts head coach was the Baltimore Ravens defensive backfield coach in 2009 when Davis decided to enter the National Football League draft. At the annual scouting combine at Lucas Oil Stadium, Pagano had a chance to interview Davis one-on-one as a potential Ravens draft pick. The two immediately hit it off.

Also, while at the combine, Davis struck up a friendship with Powers, who was also one of the cornerback invitees. They’ve stayed in communication, texting one another, ever since. King, meanwhile, briefly spent time on the Dolphins roster last year before returning to Indianapolis. Bethea and Davis grew up in the same geographic area.  

“The atmosphere feels like home. It’s rare when you can go into a place and you feel comfortable. I feel like I’ve been here for a while. I’m happy to be here,” Davis said Monday. “It’s a great opportunity. I’m an Indianapolis Colt now. I’m happy to be here. I’ve got some great teammates that have welcomed me with open arms. I look forward to the future.”

He arrived in Indianapolis late Sunday night and spent most of Monday morning meeting with general manager Ryan Grigson, defensive coordinator Greg Manusky, secondary coach Mike Gilhamer and Pagano.

Powers is glad to have Davis on board. They are both expected to be in the starting lineup for the Colts at right and left cornerback, respectively.

“We were the same draft class, 2009, so we ran into each other a lot through the whole process. Just kept in contact by him wishing me well and me wishing him well throughout games, seeing him at certain events. We’ve been good friends ever since we’ve both entered the NFL,” he noted.

“Anytime you can go to a team and you know some guys on the team, you kind of don’t feel like the outcast, you can blend in with guys. It’s a lot of guys that know Vontae on the team. It’s not like he’s just a new face that nobody knows him. Everybody has at least heard of Vontae because of his production and what he’s done on the football field.”

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