A fringe player on every NFL roster he’s been on, Titus Davis wasn’t given much of a chance to make the Bears when he signed with them in May. It’s a feeling Davis himself knows all too well. A year ago in Jets camp, beset by a personal and professional depression, he gave up on himself — retiring from football 10 days into training camp.
The former Wheaton-Warrenville South star still is a long shot, but feeling a lot better about his career and his life since returning to football. He made three catches for 38 yards — all from rookie Mitch Trubisky — in the Bears’ 19-7 preseason victory over the Titans on Sunday at Nissan Stadium in Nashville. But even when he had only one catch for 14 yards in the first two preseason games he was feeling pretty good — just happy to be back on a football field.
“One hundred percent,” he said. “Camp’s tough. I know a lot of guys dread it. It’s one of those things. But seeing where I’ve been the last couple of years, it’s kind of like there are times I want to sink into that mood, but I’m happy because I could be somewhere else. I could be at home not doing this. When you’re away from it, you realize how much you miss it and you realize what you had. So I’ve been reminding myself of that whenever things get hard. Every day I approach it with the same mentality — I love the game. Have fun and have a great attitude.”
Davis has had great moments in football. He starred on Wheaton South’s undefeated state championship team in 2010. He was a four-time all-MAC team wide receiver at Central Michigan, with 13 touchdowns as a senior in 2014.
But the trials and tribulations of making it in the NFL took a toll. Davis was not drafted and signed a free-agent contract with the Chargers. He ended up being cut four times in 2015 — by the Chargers, Jets, Bills and Jets.
After retiring from football at 23, Davis said he got some quizzical looks from friends and family members — why would anyone give up on a such a great and rare opportunity? It was hard to explain he had lost his love for the game.
But with the help of family members, particularly his father-in-law and his younger brother Corey — who had a terrific senior season at Western Michigan and was drafted fifth overall in the 2017 draft — Davis snapped out of his funk.
“It was being away from it. It started to grow on me,” Titus Davis said. “And watching my brother kind of brought back that spark. Throughout his senior season, I was able to catch most of his gams. And just seeing him play with passion and seeing him have fun, it kind of sparked that back in me.
“I was kind of reminded why I started to play the game and why I love the game so much. Everything else that I can’t control, I just leave it behind and when I’m here on the field I just try to approach it with the best attitude I can, stay positive and just do what I’ve got to do.”
Davis started camp at the end of the line among Bears wide receivers, but he’s been picking up ground. He’s still battling tough odds, even with Cam Meredith’s apparent season-ending injury likely to open a spot. But he’s used to that — and in better mental shape now to handle it.
“I’ve been in a situation a couple of times with a couple of different teams — not knowing if I’d be here, the whole worrying and everything that comes with it,” Davis said. “I think I have more of an opportunity here than I’ve had in the past.
“At the beginning of camp it was tough with a bunch of different things and not seeing many opportunities. But towards the back half, I’ve kind of stepped up and started to make plays. Things just came to me. When you’re patient and work hard, things will come. And when they do you have to take advantage.
“Of course there are things you need to get better at daily and throughout practice and even in games. But I’m confident and comfortable where I am.”
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