The Ravens' rookie class reports to training camp today as they continue preparations for their first NFL season.
Selected in the third round of the NFL draft out of Iowa, defensive tackle Carl Davis is expected to have a versatile role in the Ravens' defensive line rotation this season.
Signed to a four-year, $2.95 million contract that includes a $625,048 signing bonus, the 6-foot-5, 320-pound All-Big Ten Conference defensive lineman recorded 36 tackles, nine for losses, two sacks, a fumble recovery and a blocked field goal last season.
Growing up in Detroit, Davis says he models his game after Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, one of the most aggressive players in the NFL.
Before the start of camp, Davis shared his thoughts with The Baltimore Sun in this rookie diary:
"I've just been working out and studying my playbook all summer, trying to get everything to be second nature to me and stay in shape. I've been in Detroit. I come from a rough area on the west side of Detroit. I've been fortunate even though I had to do a lot of moving around. I've seen some of my old schools and it's reminding me of how I got here. My elementary school is boarded up and a lot of public schools are shut down in Detroit. I come from this area. Now that I've made it to the NFL, I haven't really accomplished anything at all to my way of thinking, but I do remind myself of how far I've come.
"It's been great to reset my mind and go into another tough phase, which is training camp and will be mentally tough. If I don't die, I'm good! I'll be good. If it doesn't kill me, it's going to make me stronger. I really do believe that. I'm ready to make the most of this opportunity. Only one percent of high school athletes get the opportunity to play in the NFL and be drafted. I'm really blessed.
"It's going to be fun to put on the pads and go against some good offensive linemen. The Ravens have got Pro Bowl offensive linemen. It's a great opportunity to see who's who and it's going to be tough. I got to learn a whole new system. It's a lot. It's a challenge I'm willing to go through. I'm really excited. I've learned different positions, the one, three and five [techniques]. Playing for coach [Clarence Brooks] CB, he's a cool dude. He's funny. He really makes it easy. If I'm having a tough day or a rough day, he'll check on me. He really gets us. He makes guys great. Everybody's funny. I enjoy being a part of this defensive line.
"A lot of guys from my area got caught up in peer pressure. I had my intentions to make it. My mom and people around me told me I was ahead of my time. I never thought like kids my age and never got caught up in drugs. I played basketball and football. Everyone else would get caught up and hanging with the wrong people and being persuaded to do bad things, but I had my head on straight. I love sports so much. I know a lot of people from my neighborhood that have that same sad story: 'I was supposed to be the next Bo Jackson.' You hear those stories. Why didn't you make it? What happened. They had girl problems or they got caught up in drugs or got arrested.
"I would never let myself do that. It's funny, when I was in college, they called me Grandpa. I did stuff the right way. I didn't start drinking until I was 21. I never smoked before. I did stuff differently. A lot of my friends respected that and respected who I was and what I was about. I feel like that gave me an edge. I had a mindset about how I go about things. I don't know if marijuana is right or wrong. In the NFL, it's not right. It's wrong. I never tried it. I understood it wasn't right. You get drug tested, you get in trouble for that stuff. There's people who can't put it down. I don't want to get addicted to anything, that's my mindset.
"I wasn't fortunate enough to be able to live in the suburbs until my junior year. My mom got remarried. A lot of people I grew up with didn't make it to see my age. A lot of people got caught up in the streets. They're dead or in jail. It's the reality. People are getting killed and it's tough for me to see these things happen. A lot of my family members are in jail. I've seen kids I grew up with die. It's sad and unfortunate. I can control what I can control, and that's beating the odds. I would catch the bus in the suburbs in the snow. I got up early every day. One morning, I was at the bus stop and a bus came by and splashed all this snow on me. I had to go to Burger King and change my clothes.
"It's tough being in the league because they think you have all this money. I just have a job. It's not easy. All you want to do is play football and focus. We hear this all the time. People don't understand. People ask for you all this money. It's like, 'Wow, let me help myself first and play my first snap and get myself together.' I can't blame them. It's a crab-in-the-bucket society. I have to remove myself. It's tough when you lose relationships over money.
"My Twitter, Trenchwork94, is something that's very special. That's my brand. Of course, everybody knows what it means to play in the trenches. It's dirty work. It's about football. It's also about life. It teaches you a lot about life, the whole mindset of trenchwork in football. It's basically saying that we line up every day in life and in football or going to work. We might get hit or do the hitting, but ultimately we still have to line up and do it again and be consistent. It's about the tough people who get up and do it every day and get knocked down and get up again. That's what the whole brand is about. It's just for anybody, men and women who do the dirty work. It's something to be prideful about. I don't care if you're a football player or a garbage man or a CEO. Everybody has their own grind.
"People joke around and call me Mr. Trenchwork. I want people to know I've been through a lot in life. I was always a good athlete. I didn't play football until my freshman year of high school. There were big and talented guys, but I was just a guy trying to get better. I wasn't noticed as one of the best football players at first. It was just me and my mindset. I want to show everybody that it's about that toughness. A lot of guys didn't pan out. They got distracted with girls or hype. I like to work in a three-point stance. I'm about that trenchwork.
"The beautiful thing about being from Detroit and then being drafted to Baltimore is they're both blue-collar cities where people go to work every day. They're not like a Chicago or a Los Angeles. They're full of people with pride who do their work every day. It's for people who grind every day. It's about the people who get up every day and put their hand in the dirt. I have to make something of myself on the football field, or in life. When I go through tough times, I have to be the model for trenchwork, line up and give everything I have.
"Iowa football is tough. I've seen so many people who came into Iowa football who don't last. It's hard, but I wasn't going home. I have nothing to go home too, is how I felt. I might as well have died out there. I wanted to make the most of it. I made some great friends along the way that had the same mindset as me and same background as me. Growing up in that tough neighborhood, we were that one percent of one percent. I'm blessed to get this opportunity and be a Raven. This is a winning program.
On free time
"I like hanging out with my friends. We sit at the house and hang out and talk about old times. We laugh, play cards, shoot some pool. That's all. I don't know too many people in Baltimore yet. I've got friends and teammates. We've got to grow closer together. When you go through time times, you find people to gravitate to.
"I go to the movies. I like going to see comedies. There's so much BS in the world, so I refuse to watch the news. People are dying, so why not make myself laugh? I like action-packed movies like the Bourne Identity. A hilarious movie is Stepbrothers.
"The fireworks incidents with JPP [Jason Pierre-Paul] this summer and [Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback C.J. Wilson] are unfortunate. You got some of these things made in Taiwan and the fireworks can go sideways. It's expected to go in the air and it goes the wrong way. I had one as a kid where I had a bottle rocket and I lit it and it tilted over and hit a window. I stopped messing with fireworks after that. I hope JPP is good and can still play and get his contract. Being in this profession, you only want the best for guys. We all understand and have been going that same route. It's about blood, sweat and tears, grinding.