After four years in the Big Apple, Demario Davis came to Cleveland chasing what he called an opportunity.
Davis, the new Browns linebacker who made his first appearance with the local media Wednesday afternoon, said there's an energy around Berea with new coach Hue Jackson and executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown.
"You can kind of feel the optimism. They are trying to go in a different direction. I know what that looks like. I went through it in college. I went from an average team to a team that has now won four conference championships in a row," said Davis, who went to Arkansas State.
"I have kind of seen that, and I have a similar feeling. When I came here, I could feel it. I just wanted to be a part of the journey."
Davis, the former starting inside linebacker for the Jets, is expected to compete for the same role in Cleveland and help shore up a run defense that struggled the past two seasons.
"It's kind of on the linebackers to lead by example. You are kind of the quarterback of the defense. You have to be ready to play at a high standard," he said. "I just try to bring attitude and effort to wherever I am at, whatever the situation is."
And while Davis is the new guy, he's ready to be a leader on a defense in search of them.
"I think the coaches understand who I am as a player on and off the field and who I am as a person," he said. "They knew what they would get when they brought me in. They had a grasp before I even said a word of who I was. That was another reason I wanted to come and be a part of this organization."
The feeling goes both ways.
Jackson echoed a similar sentiment Wednesday, saying "there's no question" Davis can take a leadership role in his first season with the team.
"I think he can. I think he truly will be," Jackson said.
"Playing the position that he plays kind of thrusts that on you, but I think he is looking forward to it. He is a very talented football player. He is very athletic. He kind of likes to mix it up a little bit — not a little bit but a lot. He likes playing football. He is a guy that we have put on our football team who we think is going to help us as we continue to move forward."
Davis started his NFL journey as a little-known third-round pick from Arkansas State. But in New York, he quickly blossomed into one of the league's better linebackers and a key cog on the team's defense.
Former Jets and current Bills coach Rex Ryan was so impressed with Davis that he once compared his leadership traits to Ray Lewis, the former Baltimore Ravens linebacker known for his fiery play.
While Davis played down the compliment as an overblown headline, he said his approach to leadership might be comparable.
"He's a guy who exhorts and encourages people. He ignites energy in the guys around him and I think I'm similar to that in that facet and that's what Rex was talking about more so than play on the field," Davis said.
"It was more about character, who are you as a person, living a life that challenges the people around you and if you ask my coaches and my teammates, they'd probably say the same."
Added Davis: "I'm just here to bring attitude and effort. That's all I can bring, a positive attitude every day, great effort. I feel like if you bring maximum effort every day, you can be the best person that you can be, the best player that you can be, and have success. If we can get everybody doing that, then we will be successful."