When the New Orleans Saints wrap up mandatory minicamp Thursday and the rest of the roster flies away to parts unknown for the final break of the NFL offseason, Marcus Davenport will be getting ready to go under the knife.
But Davenport doesn't see Friday's surgery as a major setback.
The first-round pick out of UTSA said he fully expects to be ready for training camp, and he's focused on preparing for his first camp in the NFL.
"That's the expectation," Davenport said.
Davenport missed Wednesday's practice, an absence he attributed to making sure he's ready for his surgery Friday, although he declined to go into detail about the thumb injury.
When news broke of the injury at the beginning of the week, Davenport was surprised at the reaction to it. He said he has always thought of the injury as a minor issue; the Saints wanted to be proactive about fixing it.
"I had people texting me, 'Get well soon,' 'hoping for a speedy recovery,’” Davenport said. "And I'm like, nothing happened, but OK."
Wednesday's absence aside, Davenport has gotten a lot of work this summer. Veteran defensive ends Cameron Jordan, Alex Okafor and Trey Hendrickson have all been limited by injury this summer, which has allowed Davenport to take a lot of reps with the starters.
That means a ton of snaps against left tackle Terron Armstead, one of the NFL's best left tackles when healthy.
Facing off against Armstead can be frustrating, but it's also an excellent introduction to the tackles Davenport will face at the NFL level.
"It's great," Davenport said. "I feel like if I lose — I still get mad; I can’t say I don’t get mad — (but) at least I’m still learning."
Armstead has also taken Davenport under his wing, offering him advice after each snap about how to better attack offensive tackles.
And the talented, cerebral left tackle isn't the only player who's teaching Davenport the tricks of the trade.
Although Jordan has been out of practice this week (he and his girlfriend had a baby), he and Okafor have been able to offer Davenport advice throughout practices.
"I think I’ve improved a lot," Davenport said. "Especially with such great vets teaching me, taking me under their wing, but it’s still a process. I’m still learning."
Davenport, like a lot of the players up front, can't employ his full complement of moves yet. In a non-contact practice, he can't fully unleash power, so a lot of his work has been on the finesse of the position, as well as the chess match that goes on between pass rusher and offensive linemen.
In college, Davenport could rely on his impressive skill set. At the NFL level, a lot more preparation must go into the one-on-one fight.
"It’s all a mental game," Davenport said. "More mental than physical. There’s so many little things that you do that really make a big difference."
Davenport will find out how he can use his strength once full-contact practices begin in July.
For the moment, Davenport said he feels like he's already a lot better than he was when the Saints drafted him.
"Being faster," Davenport said. "Going in with a plan and being able to execute it — and even when it doesn’t necessarily work, being able to have counters in mind and being more fluid."
And he's not worried that the thumb is going to hold him back.