Redskins TE Davis an ageless wonder

Oct 17, 2017 - 12:36 AM HERNDON, Va. -- Two years ago, at age 31, veteran tight end Vernon Davis was a bit player on a Super Bowl champion. A once brilliant career was fading.

Davis left the champion Denver Broncos via free agency and had a resurgence with his hometown Washington Redskins last season. That's continued in 2017 at age 33, helping make up for a limited Jordan Reed (chest, toe injuries) at tight end.

The last two games alone Davis has caught passes for 69 and 51 yards. His presence opposite Reed has kept a top-five offense humming despite the loss of its top two wide receivers in the offseason (DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon), injuries (Reed, Jamison Crowder) and a suspect running game (106 yards per game, 21st overall).

"I've always kept my faith, that's what I've relied on," Davis said. "I know my body, I know my mind. Of course, there's going to be ups and downs, there's gonna be roller coasters and moments when things aren't going right for you. But your career is like your life - there's adversity, good times, bad times. You have to understand that if you do run into speed bumps, it's going to get better. It always gets better. It never stays the same."

Davis had 44 receptions for 583 yards in 2016 with Washington. That was his most yardage since 2013 in San Francisco (52 receptions, 850 yards, 13 touchdowns). With Reed again struggling to stay healthy early in 2017, the snaps have again been there. Davis has 11 catches for 225 yards and a touchdown through five games.

The guy's a freak," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said. "He's the most impressive guy I've been around really as far as taking care of his body, and whatever he's doing, he needs to tell all our young guys to do it because he's amazing."

In the quarterback room at Redskins Park, Cousins and backup Colt McCoy will watch film and marvel at Davis' ability to make defenders miss, the way he can still move down the field with speed. They call him "El Caballo" - the Horse - because he runs like a thoroughbred.

"Special player," Cousins said. "But I keep going back to Vernon is a great player, but he's a better person. He's not a guy who acts entitled. He's a guy who could at his age and experience level. He is just very humble, hungry. A fun guy to play football with."

--Redskins rookie defensive end Jonathan Allen could miss a month with a Lisfranc sprain in his foot.

Allen has a sack and 10 tackles and has started all five games for an improved defensive line rotation. He was selected No. 17 overall in the first round of the 2017 draft.

"It's an impact. He's been playing well," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said. "We have a good group of defensive linemen. We had a good, strong rotation going."

Allen will see foot specialist Dr. Robert Anderson in Charlotte this week to get a more precise diagnosis.

--The Redskins will work out kickers on Tuesday while they figure out the status of Dustin Hopkins (right hip rotator muscle strain). Hopkins is nine for 11 on field-goal attempts through five games. He has been Washington's kicker since Week 2 of the 2015 season. Hopkins has made 68 of 81 kicks for the Redskins and 87 of 92 extra points.

--Washington's secondary has been decimated by injuries. Josh Norman (broken rib) missed the San Francisco game on Sunday. Bashaud Breeland, the other starting cornerback, sustained a knee injury and his status for the game Monday night at the Philadelphia Eagles is uncertain. Safety Deshazor Everett (hamstring) missed the 49ers game. Safety Stefan McClure (hyper-extended knee) is listed as week-to-week after his injury in the 49ers game. Safety Montae Nicholson aggravated his injured shoulder.

NOTES: DL Anthony Lanier will move into the rotation Monday night against the Philadelphia Eagles thanks to injuries. Lanier has been inactive in all five games so far. ... LT Trent Williams played 73 of 74 snaps in Sunday's game against the San Francisco 49ers despite not practicing all last week and being listed as questionable for the game. ... RB Chris Thompson set a career high with 16 carries in Sunday's 26-24 win over the San Francisco 49ers. Thompson's previous best was 12 in a loss at Detroit in Week 8 of 2016. ... ILB Zach Brown has five tackles for loss to lead the Redskins. No other player has more than two through five games. Brown also has a team-high 50 tackles, double any other player. ... CB DeAngelo Hall remains on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list as he recovers from a torn right ACL sustained in Week 3 last season, but he could begin his practice window in the next two weeks.


--PASSING OFFENSE: B - A solid game from quarterback Kirk Cousins (25-for-37, 330 yards, two touchdowns). There were some ugly throws and an interception - plus another pick that was overturned on replay. But Cousins managed the game well enough. Defenses are also going to have to start accounting for his legs. Cousins ran for 26 yards, including a read-option play for the decisive touchdown.

--RUSHING OFFENSE: B - No Rob Kelley (ankle) again and the Redskins don't seem to trust rookie Samaje Perine yet (nine carries, 23 yards). They instead used Chris Thompson as more of a feature back. Head coach Jay Gruden doesn't want to do that because of Thompson's injury history. He might have to keep it up. Thompson had 16 carries for 33 yards and is scary in the screen game. That was just enough to keep the 49ers off-balance given Washington's 2.8 yards per carry on the ground. Cousins' four carries helped, too.

--PASS DEFENSE: C-plus - The Redskins were down to playing two rookies (cornerback Fabian Moreau, safety Montae Nicholson) thanks to injuries when San Francisco struck for a 45-yard touchdown pass with 1:58 to go. That cut the lead to 26-24. Rookie C.J. Beathard passed for 245 yards in less than three quarters. The lone bright spots for Washington were the play of corner Quinton Dunbar and an interception by corner Kendall Fuller.

--RUSH DEFENSE: A - The Redskins again managed to limit the opposing run game. The 49ers had just 85 rushing yards on 20 carries. They allowed Carlos Hyde to score twice, but he had just 2.8 yards per carry.

--SPECIAL TEAMS: C-plus - Kicker Dustin Hopkins made two field goals, including a 48-yarder in the second quarter. But his missed extra point late in the game almost cost Washington the win. Hopkins also had six touchbacks on six kickoff attempts. Punter Tress Way had less success on Sunday. He dropped one of four punts inside the 20. His untimely touchback punting from the San Francisco 45 gave the 49ers the ball at the 20 with 52 seconds left. The Redskins' coverage unit also allowed a 39-yard punt return in the third quarter and a San Francisco drive started at the 50.

--COACHING: B - Washington's defense continues to impress despite mounting injuries in the secondary. That's a positive. But head coach Jay Gruden went conservative on offense with the ball and a 26-17 lead late in the fourth quarter. Three runs burned San Francisco's timeouts, but the Redskins never even attempted to get a first down and still gave the 49ers the ball with 53 seconds left. Gruden's play-calling in the red zone was questionable, too. On first-and-goal at the 4 with the game tied at 17 early in the fourth quarter, Washington ran twice, including with tight end/fullback Niles Paul, and threw an incomplete pass to settle for a disappointing field goal.

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