INDIANAPOLIS — There was an extra bounce in Vontae Davis’ step this week at the Indianapolis Colts’ practice facility.
The fifth-year cornerback was injured the week before the Miami game last year and missed the opportunity to play against his former team. On Sunday, he figures to be front and center for the rematch against the Dolphins at Lucas Oil Stadium.
“I think he has a lot to prove and to show critics that doubted him,” teammate Greg Toler said. “He’s happy to be here. He’s going to take it one play at a time, just play our style of football.”
Davis was dealt to Indianapolis for a second-round draft pick just before the final week of the preseason last summer. After three years in Miami, his farewell meeting with Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland was captured by HBO’s “Hard Knocks” cameras for posterity.
Ireland told the then 24-year-old he needed to iron out the inconsistencies in his game. The potential to be a great cornerback was there, but there were too many valleys being mixed in with the peaks.
Davis appeared shell-shocked as Ireland wished him well and told him he might need to rush to beat an approaching storm system and schedule a flight to his new home.
He arrived in Indianapolis with questions about his work ethic and maturity. But just one year later, he’s emerged as a leader in the Colts’ rebuilt secondary.
Davis is the team’s top on-the-ball defender, starting opposite Toler and playing in front of safeties Antoine Bethea and LaRon Landry. He made just two tackles in the season opener against Oakland last week, but the Raiders showed respect by rarely throwing his way.
“He’s getting better and better every week,” Colts defensive coordinator Greg Manusky said. “Throwing to him and not throwing to him — I think (the Dolphins are) going to — it depends on what plays they want to see and go against him. He’s having a good camp and a good first game. We’re looking for good things for him in the future. He’s playing well.”