Friday, August 1, 2014
Davon House finds his way to Revis Island
By Rob Demovsky
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Will Sullivan calls the drill Blood in the Water, and it does not matter whether you're Darrelle Revis or Davon House, the assignment is the same.
It's you against the receiver, mano a mano. Just you, him and the ball.
"If you get beat in the drill, you stay in there until you figure out what you did wrong and you make it right," said Sullivan, the overseer at Sullivan PROformance training center in Phoenix. "I don't care who you are.
"I'm a lot more confident," Davon House said, "playing with more swagger I guess you could say, so it makes things a lot easier."
"So House comes in -- no one knows who he is -- and we keep him in the drill until he gets it right."
For three-and-a-half weeks last month before House returned for the start of his fourth NFL training camp with the Green Bay Packers, he worked out with Revis and nearly a dozen other college and NFL players under the guidance of Sullivan, who has been Revis' personal cornerback coach the last eight offseasons.
After training with Revis & Co., House has gotten it right on the Packers' practice field more often than not.
Take the two-minute drill during the Packers' training camp practice Wednesday. It was second-and-goal at the 1-yard line, and quarterback Aaron Rodgers made one of his favorite throws, the back-shoulder fade, to wide receiver Jordy Nelson.
House was there to break up the pass, but he might not have made the play two or three years ago.
"Two or three years ago? No," House said. “But now I'm a lot more confident, playing with a lot more swagger, I guess you could say, so it makes things a lot easier."
Confidence can be found in any number of places, but House found it on Revis Island.
"For me, he was just so patient," House said when asked what he learned from working out with Revis. "Just how patient and how balanced he was and how controlled he was. His confidence level is top-notch. I guess you could say kind of like how you see [Rodgers play quarterback], so smooth, and he makes everything look so easy. That's how Revis was."
The time with Revis and Sullivan might end up being a defining moment in House’s career.
"If he doesn't have his best year as a pro," Sullivan said in a phone interview, "I'd be surprised."
That does not mean House will become a Revis clone. In fact, Sullivan believes in teaching techniques designed to help a player excel in whatever scheme his respective team runs.
"It's not the 'Shutdown U' program where it's my way or the highway," Sullivan said. "It's my job to learn what is it that the Green Bay Packers are asking from House and what are the techniques that make him successful."
And House, according to Sullivan, soaked it up.
"I started calling him 'The Computer,'" Sullivan said. "I said, 'You're like a human computer because you process information very, very well.'"
This is not the first time House has started fast in training camp. A 2011 fourth-round draft pick, he was on his way to winning a starting job in his second season until he sustained a shoulder injury in the preseason opener at San Diego. He missed the rest of the preseason and the first six games of the regular season. By then, Sam Shields had taken hold of the job and has never relinquished it.
So far in camp, the 6-foot-1, 195-pound House has worked regularly as the No. 3 cornerback on the outside. Because he has not yet become versed in playing in the slot -- something he plans to work on with Sullivan in the future -- he's not an option as a nickelback or dime back. But his long, physical style lends itself well to covering the bigger outside receivers the Packers typically face in the NFC North, such as Detroit’s Calvin Johnson and Chicago's duo of Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery.
"Davon House is clearly having his best year here as a pro -- just what he's done in the offseason, some of the things he's focused on, things he knew he could improve on," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "You saw that since April. He's a big, long, strong corner. He does a lot of good things. I love that whole secondary, just our depth, competition. And I think Davon is off to an excellent start."
With House in the final year of his rookie contract, it's time for him to carry that to the regular season. If he does, he could be in line for a starting job next year if the Packers decide not to re-sign veteran Tramon Williams.