- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 18, 2019

ASHBURN — Robert Davis remembers his first steps. Not the ones he took as an infant, of course, but the ones he took four months after suffering a gruesome leg injury.

At 24, the Redskins wide receiver had to learn how to walk again. Last August, Davis broke his tibia and tore his ACL, PCL and LCL all on one play. He was carted off, with his football career potentially over.

But in the Redskins’ facility earlier in the offseason, Davis was with a team trainer as he took his first steps without crutches. He was emotional.

“When you’re this young, you can feel like you’re invincible,” Davis said, “and you finally have something that really smacks you in the face and lets you know that I’m human just like everybody else.”

Davis’ road to recovery is partially why, months later, the 6-foot-3 wideout considers what he has done throughout training camp and the preseason to be a “blessing from God.”

In Washington’s 23-13 preseason loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday, Davis broke free for a 55-yard touchdown. It was his second straight week of cruising into the end zone. This time, Davis hailed in Dwayne Haskins’ first touchdown pass in an NFL preseason game.

Last year, it was undrafted free agent Cam Sims who “threw a hand grenade” into the Redskins’ competition at wide receiver, according to senior vice president of player personnel Doug Williams. But in 2019, that role appears to belong to Davis — a 2017 sixth-rounder who has been one of Washington’s only offensive playmakers this preseason.

Though he’s hardly a lock to make the 53-man roster, Davis has made a strong argument for himself with his performance.

“(Davis) continues to make plays,” coach Jay Gruden said. “The more he gets his legs under him, I think he’s got a chance to do some more things this week. Hopefully, we’ll get him in there for some more reps this week. Mentally, he’s doing a good job. Physically, he’s making some plays. Looks like he’s running pretty good.”

In Richmond, Gruden said he was surprised to see Davis practice this soon. He expected Davis to open camp on the physically unable to perform list, but credited the receiver for being able to practice. “He busted his tail to get back on the field,” he said.

Recovering from a devastating injury, too, can be very isolating. When Davis’ teammates were out practicing, he was inside the training facility focused on his rehab. Davis tried to combat the loneliness by calling his parents as many as five to six times per day. The chats, he said, could last as short as 30 seconds, or as long as an hour or two.

Davis said the phone calls helped him stay mentally strong.

“They were always available,” Davis said. “Both my parents are retired.”

Davis has received praise from his teammates. Quarterback Case Keenum singled out Davis’ effort on a route that drew a 40-yard pass interference penalty in Washington’s first preseason game in Cleveland. Haskins said Davis did a great job of getting open.

On Sunday, Gruden noted the final wide receiver spots could come down to who excels on special teams. Under Gruden, the Redskins have normally kept six receivers on the 53-man roster — and the team expects its fourth, fifth and sixth receivers to be able to contribute in that area.

Davis said he is willing to help out in whatever way he’s needed. But at the same time, Davis insisted he’s not worried about the competition — given he knows his situation could always be worse.

“Honestly when you get to thinking about that kind of stuff, you can’t really focus on playing the game you love,” Davis said. “I had this game taken away from me for a full year, so right now, it’s just a blessing to be on the field.”

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