After suffering a gruesome injury last August that resulted in multiple torn ligaments and a fractured tibia in his right leg, Robert Davis entered First Energy Stadium in Cleveland on Thursday for his first game action in a year.
Davis' role with the 2019 Redskins is still undefined. He's been impressive in during training camp, yet he's stuck in a thick competition at wideout, which rookie draft selections Terry McLaurin and Kelvin Harmon.
But in the preseason opener, Davis stole the offensive spotlight.
Facing 3rd-and-16 on Washington's second drive of the game, quarterback Case Keenum connected with a wide-open Davis down the right sideline for a 46-yard touchdown to tie the game at seven. Davis immediately dropped to his knees and threw his hands in the air after the score, signifying a year's worth of emotion for the third-year wideout.
"It was a blessing from God," Davis said of his first NFL touchdown. "I've had a rough year coming back from injury, and being able to cross that goal line for the first time in my career is a blessing from God."
Drafted by the Redskins in the sixth round of the 2017 NFL Draft, Davis received praise for his physical presence, athleticism and collegiate success coming out of Georgia State. Following training camp, however, the team waived Davis and signed him to the practice squad the next day. He appeared in one game after being called up to the active roster that December but did not make a reception.
Davis' uninspiring rookie campaign gave way to a sophomore season that lasted all of one preseason contest. During practice in mid-August, Davis suffered a broken tibia and a torn LCL. He was subsequently placed on Injured Reserve and ruled out for the entire 2018 season.
“I didn’t know when I was going to be able to come back," Davis told reporters during this year's training camp. "I didn’t know if I was going to be the same."
Davis spent the next several months rehabbing, eventually building up his strength and speed as the 2019 campaign drew closer. And while he spent offseason workouts working with fellow injured players on the side fields, he was a full participant during Redskins training camp over the past few weeks. Even in a crowded position group, his potential was evident in Richmond.
"It was good to see Robert, man," head coach Jay Gruden said Friday morning. "He's gone through a lot. He's busted his tail to get back on the field. We didn't really fully expect him this soon. We thought he might be a PUP candidate, but he worked his tail off to get himself ready to go and glad to see he got some opportunities. Got a big [pass interference] call there early and then scored a touchdown. I still think he's fighting through a little bit of rust and the kinks, but there's a lot to like there."
Davis insists his leg feels good -- "I don't even think about it until [the media] says something" -- but the bulging brace under his white leggings during practice serves as a constant reminder of what he's endured. However, with a "whole year of hard work," Davis has emerged from the shadows of his nasty injury and poised to standout in Washington.
"Being able to finally come back and doing what I’m able to do is a great feeling.”