Marcus Davenport is going to be limited for the next several weeks.
The Saints rookie pass rusher suffered a thumb injury that will require surgery, according to a source. The injury is not significant. Davenport is expected to undergo the procedure after minicamp and should be back in time for training camp.
New Orleans made a big move to acquire Davenport, trading first-round picks in 2018 and 2019 to move up in the draft and select him. Davenport is considered a raw prospect, but the Saints are confident they can mold him into the dynamic pass rusher the team has lacked the past few seasons.
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Unlike Sheldon Rankins’ fibula injury that kept him off the field for half of his rookie year, Davenport’s injury occurred at somewhat of an opportune time. The he injured his hand instead of something on his lower body should also ensure that he remains in shape during the break.
While this is somewhat of a setback and something both he and the team would have rather avoided, it shouldn’t be much a hindrance if Davenport's recovery follows the expected timeline. When minicamp breaks this week, players leave the facility and are on their own until returning for training camp at the end of July. That gives Davenport about six weeks to recover.
The Saints believe they have the makings for one of their deeper pass rushes in recent years. Along with Davenport, New Orleans has Cam Jordan, Alex Okafor, Trey Hendricks, Al-Quadin Muhammad and others at the position. The success of the group, however, rides mostly on Davenport’s ability to develop and how Okafor returns from an Achilles injury that cut his 2017 season short.
The traits that attracted New Orleans to Davenport have been present throughout the offseason program. His coaches and teammates have all praised his natural athleticism and size. They've also pointed out that he has a lot of work to do before the start of the season, something expected when the team moved up to draft him.
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“He’s an athletic guy. That’s what you saw at the combine, in college,” defensive line coach Ryan Nielsen said after a recent practice. “He’s the got the length and the size. It’s exciting to work with him. I think he’s done a good job of playing hard and really focusing on the fundamentals and technique just to improve his overall game in the run and the pass. We’re working on a couple different rushes that he can master and go to during the game.”
The 6-foot-6 pass rusher is also working to learn many of the other intricacies of playing the position. Davenport often rushed the passer from a standing position while at Texas-San Antonio, where he recorded 8½ sacks as a senior. It wasn’t until the Senior Bowl that he began putting his hand on the ground in a three-point stance on a consistent basis.
Davenport has said that the process is coming along well and that he’s beginning to feel comfortable with what he’s learning. His coaches and teammates also say he’s engaged in meetings and has a thirst for knowledge that should serve him well as he continues to learn the position and develop as a pass rusher.
Davenport's injury situation must be overcome, but it certainly could have been much worse for both he and the Saints.