By: Barry Barnes, Founder
The NFL Regional Combine has representatives who can contribute to a team’s conquest of the Lombardi trophy. And during Wildcard Weekend, RC pioneers like Los Angeles Rams safety Cody Davis will have an impact.
“He’s (Davis) looked good this week,” Rams head coach Sean McVay said after Davis was activated off IR. “Expect to get him out there and looking forward to having Cody back.”
Despite having an excellent season, the Rams’ depth has been diminished due to several injuries, including cornerback Kayvon Webster (Achilles). Davis injured his quad in Week 6 against the Jacksonville Jaguars and was placed on IR. He returned to practice in Week 16 and was activated for the team’s regular season finale against the San Francisco 49ers.
Davis will bring the balance of veteran leadership to the secondary. Prior to his absence, he led the Rams safeties in snaps played, and out of the 77 qualifiers, Pro Football Focus listed him as the 14th best safety in coverage as he registered 19 tackles, six defense passes and an interception.
The Rams will need Davis’ production against the Atlanta Falcons, who are eighth in the league in passing yards (249.4) and eighth in total yards (364.8). The Falcons have returned to their offensive state of mind and the Rams secondary must be ready for the challenge.
“I’m super excited and I just thank God for getting me through this process — recovered and back on the field with my teammates,” Davis voiced. “Looking forward to contributing wherever I can.”
Davis is fired up to be a part of the Rams’ championship run.
“It’s been tough…but I am itching to get back out there,” Davis explained. “It gets kind of lonely in the treatment room so to be back with the team and in the flow of things feels great. Hopefully will have some fresh legs, new excitement, and new energy out there.”
Davis will not be a lone wolf from the RC stage to help the Rams as three-time, first team All-Pro punter Johnny Hekker, wide receiver Mike Thomas and linebacker Carlos Thompson will be in the midst of the battle.
Hekker is probably the NFL’s best punter and is returning to the Pro Bowl for the fourth time. Field positioning will play a factor in the Rams matchup against the Falcons. His 47.9 per punt average will come in handy against the Dirty Birds.
Thomas had his best output of the season against the 49ers as he hauled in three receptions for 75 yards.
Could Thomas be an unexpected weapon for the Rams this week? If he is a part of the game plan, the Rams must account for Falcons safety Kemal Ishmael.
Ishmael is a cold-blooded hitter. Ishmael was not associated with the club during the Falcons’ Super Bowl run last season. He is looking forward to the team’s expedition this postseason.
Ishmael finished the 2017 regular season with 29 tackles, including a sack.
KEELAN COLE/TOMMY BOHANON
Due to some essential scouting, the Jacksonville Jaguars were paired with some solid rookie receivers. And Keelan Cole, one of NFL Regional Combine’s own, is factored in that equation.
Cole had a slow start this season in terms of catching the long ball. After Week 7 against the Indianapolis Colts when he caught a 52-yard pass, hauling the long ball became routine. Cole will the needed against an aggressive secondary of the Buffalo Bills in the Wildcard round.
Cole is second on the team with 42 receptions, but the Kentucky Wesleyan standout is the top dawg in receiving yards with 748. Cole is fourth among rookie receivers in yards, however, he averaged the most per yards per catch at 17.8.
On the ground, the Jaguars have been the best in the NFL as they averaged 141.4 per contest. The ball carriers are absolutely the bread winners in gaining those yards, but it starts up front and Bohanon helped as the battling ram. In short yardage situations, Bohanon is not too bad himself as he scored three times this season and can catch from the backfield.
The Jags must bully the Bills upfront, and Bohanon will be in the mix.
Banjo is a sneaky defender, and he has found his place in the Saints’ secondary as a situational player. The special teams ace finished the season with 12 tackles and garnered one of the most spectacular interceptions of the 2017 campaign, which came against the Falcons in Week 14.
The Saints will host the Carolina Panthers to close out Wildcard Weekend. The last time the Saints played the Panthers, Banjo forced a fumble. Another play like that from Banjo would definitely booster the Saints’ chances for a victory.