For all the commotion in and around the Falcons’ season opener, Tyeler Davison looked at home in the middle of the defense, which is kind of funny because he’s still adjusting to his new home.
The nose tackle just a few months ago moved from New Orleans, where he spent four seasons with the Saints, and in his first game with his new team he racked up a career-high six combined tackles and assists at Minnesota, surpassed only by linebacker De’Vondre Campbell’s eight.
While the big picture was bleached as the Vikings controlled the Falcons, 28-12, with a run game that the Falcons couldn’t figure out, it’s important to note that most of Minnesota’s success in the ground game came on perimeter runs by Dalvin Cook.
The men in the middle – tackles Davison, Allen Bailey and Grady Jarrett – were pretty stout. They were second, third and fourth in tackles.
“I think we just need to hone in on the details of our assignments and really own those in the run game,” he said. “As long as we do that, and every single person from the nose all the way out to the defensive ends and outside linebackers, inside linebackers, all of us, we need to not only do our assignments but do it down to the last detail.”
Those tackles played quite a bit, and they may get some more help Sunday night in the home opener against the Eagles at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Bailey played 43 of 53 defensive snaps (81 percent), Jarrett 42 (79 percent) and Davison 41 (77 percent) as coach Dan Quinn, who also is the defensive coordinator, rolled primarily with a five-man front that usually featured ends Vic Bailey and Takk McKinley in stand-up roles.
Jack Crawford saw 22 snaps of action at tackle as well.
The 6-foot-2, 310-pound Davison wishes he had some help moving from Louisiana to Atlanta. He’s single, and moving is never fun. You go from your hometown of Scottsdale, Ariz., to college at Fresno State to New Orleans – where he was a fifth-round draft choice in 2015, and then to Buckhead – and you’ve done some moving.
He was happy to sign a one-year, $895,000 contract with the Falcons in the spring. He’d rather forget moving.
“It’s not an easy process moving, especially from one city hundreds of miles away to a different one. It’s a lot of work, and it’s expensive, too. It’s definitely a headache, but in this industry it is (part of the deal),” Davison said. “I decided to live down in the city because in New Orleans I lived somewhat close to the facility.
“This time around, I kind of wanted to be in the city. Traffic isn’t great. Traffic is not the best thing about Atlanta for sure, but the best thing about being out here (in Flowery Branch) is we go the opposite way traffic is usually going, so on my commute to work and back home, usually it’s not that bad.”
There are signs that Davison is fitting right in with the Falcons.
He started 48 games and played in 61 in four seasons with the Saints and never had more than four combined tackles in a game, not that nose tackles are expected to rack up big numbers. They’re cloggers more often than not.
On most snaps, Davison lines up across from or shaded just left or right of the opposing center. When he’s not there, Jarrett is the most likely candidate. Otherwise, some combination of Jarrett, Bailey and Crawford will be at his sides.
It doesn’t matter, who.
“Based on who’s in the game, we may play different positions and calls,” Crawford said. “With Tyeler, he usually is lined up over the center, and me and Grady can switch it up. We switch it up a lot. I don’t really think about who I’m playing next to; we just make it interchangeable.”
Davison’s change of teams is going well.
“It’s been going well so far. I like it over here in Atlanta. This is a great group of guys, and I feel like we can do some special things over here,” he said. “I feel like personally, I’ve acclimated well over here so far. First game didn’t go the way we wanted, but I feel like we’re on the right track to do some things if we keep building.”
It didn’t take long to see that Davison – who majored in criminology-law enforcement at Fresno State – is a plugger. Don’t look for highlight-reel plays. Just expect him to be in the right place time after time.
He’s not a big talker, and he appears to have blended in, “As good as you can in a short space of time just in terms of the D-line room and personality,” Crawford said. “He works hard. He brings a lot of grit and physicality to the room. Everybody in the room gets along well with him. We’re happy that he’s a part of this unit.”
Davison is a tad restless, though. He’s looking for better results beginning Sunday night against the Eagles.
As he said, “It’s early in the season, and as long as we keep building and honing in on those little details, getting our assignments perfect, I think we’re going to be good.”
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