The first impression Marcus Davenport Marcus Davenport left in the Football last Saturday looked a lot like the scouting reports on him coming out of UTSA.
Davenport displayed eye-popping athleticism against the Chargers, the kind of athleticism that can make plays right away in the NFL.
But he's got a long way to go to bring that athleticism to bear on every down, the way the Saints envisioned he would when they traded two first-round picks to the Packers in order to move up and take Davenport at No. 14. This year's first-round pick, Davenport missed three weeks of training camp due to a groin injury, and defensive coordinator Dennis Allen said the rookie is behind because of the time away.
Still, during Davenport's 15 snaps, he showed why he could make an impact as a rookie, even if the team still doesn't know his role.
"I think that's still to be determined," Allen said. "Certainly, we didn't draft him just to be a situational pass rusher. We drafted this guy to be an every-down player, so that's what we're working to do, to try to get him ready to do that. We'll continue to put him in those situations, and hopefully he'll be ready to answer the challenge."
As Allen said, though, the team expects Davenport to eventually become an every-down player, but it's unclear how long it'll take the rookie to be comfortable with a heavy workload. Cameron Jordan will start at left defensive end, and Alex Okafor appears on track to be healthy enough to start at right defensive end in Week 1. Trey Hendrickson could also play a sizable role, which makes it tougher to project how much Davenport will contribute at the start of the season.
Fundamentally, Davenport is still raw, the product of missing three weeks of training camp due to a pulled groin. At 6-foot-6, Davenport is often one of the tallest players on the field, an asset that can be an advantage if used correctly, but also can be a detriment if he plays with poor technique.
The problem was evident on a few snaps on Saturday. Marcus Davenport Jersey . "He had some good plays," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "There's some things that he has to correct. His pad level was high, which isn’t that unusual in his first game. He was active on a handful plays."
Payton said the Saints plan to give Davenport a lot of work in Thursday's preseason finale against the Los Angeles Rams. After missing the first two exhibitions, Davenport could use the work, and the Saints are looking forward to having a better grasp of what he can do after seeing a glimpse last week.