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O'HARA: Davis displaying impressive communication

On the issue of communication, Detroit Lions rookie linebacker Jarrad Davis has no trouble expressing the importance of getting a message across, no matter what obstacles need to be overcome.

Whether it's a message to kids looking for a plan to be successful, or communicating with his fellow linebackers, Davis has a direct approach with a goal in mind.

It is one that already has put him in good stead with veteran teammates on the defense who are impressed with the physical skills and leadership qualities Davis displayed in offseason workouts.

Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, the elder statesman of the defense, doesn't want Davis to put his toe in the water in assuming a leadership role. Ngata wants Davis to dive right in.

"Physically, he's fast – smart," Ngata said at punter Sam Martin's recent charity softball game. "He's going to be a great linebacker – if he can just not be shy about being a leader of the team."

That's quite a statement from a player who before coming to the Lions was an All-Pro with the Baltimore Ravens and played on a defensive unit that had certain Hall of Famers Ray Lewis and Ed Reed.

Davis was drafted in the first round to give the defense a playmaking presence at middle linebacker. Not all of the responsibilities that are required to be successful at that position are physical. There is also a mental game, and communication is a big part of that.

Davis took part in all phases of the Lions' offseason program – rookie minicamp, OTA practice sessions and a three-day mandatory minicamp that closed out the official, supervised offseason program.

Tahir Whitehead, who had been the starting middle linebacker and is being moved to the weak side with the arrival of Davis in the middle, did not take part in the offseason practices because he was rehabilitating an injury.

Davis was asked last week if he foresees any problem in developing a line of communication with Whitehead unable to be on the field with him.

"It takes time to develop a relationship," Davis said. "I put time in. It's something we've been able to do in the meeting room.

"I'll be able to tell you more about that when camp comes around, and things like that."

View the 2017 Detroit Lions rookies' headshots.

Davis spoke at the second annual clinic for youth football players at Detroit Renaissance High School that is put on in partnership with the Lions and Detroit's Police Athletic League.

The manner in which Davis answered a question of how he communicates his message to young players was a window into what he has done to make him successful as a player at the University of Florida and a highly regarded rookie.

What would he tell a young player who wants to be a successful football player?

"I just tell him, 'Separate yourself,'" Davis said.

"Not in the means of getting away from everybody, but in the means of doing certain things that other people aren't willing to do at that time. You've got to make sure you're putting in a different amount of work, and a different amount of effort to make it further than the people in the group.

"Make sure you know what you're doing before you go out and tell everybody else what's going on. That's what I take pride in."

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