The Duncan Banner
A wild first season in the NFL wrapped up better than Bryce Davis ever imagined it would at the midway point.
The Duncan High School graduate, whose rookie year with the Cincinnati Bengals was a nine-month rollercoaster ride, spent the final four weeks of the regular season helping the team make a push to the playoffs and was rewarded with a two-year contract extension last week.
“The season finished out really well for me,” Davis said Monday, back in Oklahoma for the offseason. “I was on the practice squad and they had me generally playing as the opponent’s No. 1 tight end, and I think I did really well.”
Davis, who was a standout for the Demons before doing the same at the University of Central Oklahoma, was signed as an undrafted free agent on May 2. He made it through Rookie Minicamp, training camp and all four preseason games before he was cut on Aug. 31, the day rosters were finalized. The next day he was signed to the Bengals’ practice squad but was waived once again just three days later. For nearly three months, he was out of the league.
“I was a little concerned (I wouldn’t get another chance),” he said. “I had about six other teams that called me. I thought I would get a shot somewhere, but I didn’t think I would sign with anyone until next year for training camp.”
The Bengals, though, invited Davis back and on Nov. 27 he was again signed to the eight-man practice squad, helping Cincinnati as it prepared for the final four games of the regular season and then for a playoff game.
The regular season culminated in a win-or-go-home game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, with a wild card berth on the line. The Bengals won and earned a matchup with the Houston Texans.
“It was exciting. Everybody was really excited,” Davis said of the playoff push. “It was really cool while it lasted.”
During the season, Davis spent about three hours a day at the team’s practice facility, working out for an hour and practicing for two hours, three days a week. On game days, Davis didn’t get to suit up. He spent most of the games like other team personnel, buzzing around on the sideline, helping however he could.
“It’s frustrating not being out there (on the field), but being a rookie in my position, it is what it is,” Davis said. “I just have to wait for my moment.”
Davis is trying to make sure that moment comes sooner rather than later.
He has worked hard to make strides and get the attention of his coaches, which he hopes will help him out when next year’s training camp rolls around.
“I had a lot of receptions every week during practice and I think that they noticed that,” said Davis, who commented that he has improved so much in one season that feels like another athlete.
After a wild first season, Davis is already preparing for next year. He is working out at least five days a week, he said, as he prepares for August, when he will again compete for his place in the NFL.