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O'HARA: Returning Davis fitting in with new Lions culture

Jarrad Davis thought his days in Detroit were gone forever when he left the Lions after the 2020 season and signed with the Jets.

But footballs take strange bounces, and so do the people who play the games.

After his one season with the Jets, Davis signed back with the Lions as a free agent. The Lions are looking to beef up the linebacker position, and Davis showed in his four seasons with the Lions that he was worth bringing back to get a chance with a new regime.

There are no guarantees on whether Davis will stick with the Lions, but he has shown some of the qualities the Lions look for in players at any position.

"He's a pro," head coach Dan Campbell said. "He's a pro's pro is what he is. He does everything right. He does everything you ask him to do. You would think he's a second-year player by the way he comes in and handles his business.

"He's got the hunger, and he wants more. 'I'll take anything you've got Shep (linebackers coach Kelvin Sheppard). I'll take anything you've got, AG. (defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn).'

"He still believes he can get better from the mental side of the game. And obviously he has played."

Davis was surprised to get back to the Lions.

"Honestly I did not think I was going to come back," he said "When the opportunity presented itself, it was like ... 'this would be awesome.'"

The first time he walked into the Lions' headquarters, Davis knew the environment was different than the one he left.

"It was so different," he said. "The energy was amazing. People were saying hello. Everybody was smiling. Not at me but for themselves. It was awesome to be able to step there, and man, you didn't have to walk on eggshells anymore."

Davis didn't walk on eggshells on the playing field as a Lion.

Davis was the Lions' first-round pick, 21st overall, out of Florida in 2017. He was impressive immediately with his aggressiveness and work ethic.

He played the game like it meant something, which it did.

Davis played 14 games – all starts – as a rookie and started all 16 games in 2018. He finished the second season strong, posting career highs of six sacks and 10 quarterback hits.

View photos from Day 11 of Detroit Lions training camp on Monday August 8, 2022.

Davis worked with a pass-rush specialist in the offseason, seeking to improve further in that area in 2019. Injuries blunted that effort. He played 11 games, with 11 starts, and dropped to two sacks.

The 2020 season proved to be a disappointment. He played 14 games with four starts and had just a half of a sack.

Davis was not re-signed by the Lions and spent one season with the Jets before returning to the Lions.

Campbell was not surprised when Davis picked up the tempo when the Lions started practicing in pads.

"All of a sudden the pads come on, and he comes to life -- which we all kind of figured was going to happen," Campbell said. "That's his domain, and that's when he really shows up."

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