By Adam Hoge-
BOURBONNAIS (CBS) As of Sunday evening, Rashied Davis didn’t know if he was ever going to play in the NFL again.
Then the phone rang. By Noon Monday, he was at Olivet Nazarene University getting ready for his first practice with the Chicago Bears.
“Somebody walked off the field. He didn’t want his job and I guess I wanted it,” Davis said Monday.
That “somebody” was wide receiver Devin Thomas, who unexpectedly retired Sunday. The Bears placed him on the reserve/left team list Monday and signed Davis to a one-year deal.
Davis, a seven-year veteran, spent the 2011 season with the Detroit Lions after six years with the Bears. He’s never been an elite wide receiver, but he is a key special teams performer, which immediately makes him the favorite to make the team as the team’s sixth wide receiver.
“I never thought I would be this excited to pull up to this ONU campus again,” he said.
Davis, who still lives in Mundelein, didn’t get the call from the Bears until late Sunday night and before that, he wasn’t sure if his career was over. He was working out and staying in shape with the hope that a team would come calling.
“At times It was tough,” he said. “It was difficult. Being at home working out, you got two kids, you got a wife, and you got people to support. And you’re trying to figure out is your career over? Are you still going to play? And people are saying, you’re going to play — agents, coaches, different people around the league saying just be patient and stay in shape. But it gets difficult. Like I said, I got two kids and I’m trying to figure out what the next step in life is going to be, but I’m happy to be here today.”
The wide receiver stayed motivated by talked to his wife and agents. He also said he received a few e-mails asking if he was in shape and that interest sparked him to keep going.
Davis had a self-imposed deadline for when he was going to move on from the NFL if no one called, but added, “We didn’t even get close to it, so thank God for that.”
Clearly, no one was as excited as Davis to be in an NFL training camp Monday.
“An opportunity to play football. That’s all I’ve ever wanted,” he said. “That’s all I’ve ever asked for. Nothing has changed for me. It’s no different than anytime I was ever here. I was always expected to get cut so I’ve always pushed to make teams and I’m going to have to do the same this year.”
He’s right. Davis might have an advantage for the final roster spot at wide receiver because of his familiarity with Dave Toub’s special teams system, but he’ll also be learning his fourth offense in four years and that could put him behind. Dane Sanzenbacher has had a good camp and should find an NFL roster somewhere if it’s not with the Bears.
“Training camp is the longest job interview you will ever go on,” Davis said.
Adam is the Sports Editor for CBSChicago.com and specializes in coverage of the Bears, White Sox and college sports. He was born and raised in Lincoln Park and attended St. Ignatius College Prep before going off to the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he earned a Journalism degree. Follow him on Twitter @AdamHogeCBS and read more of his columns here.