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Saturday May 15th, 2021 1:02AM

WR Corey Davis came to Jets with belief Darnold 'is the guy'

By The Associated Press
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NEW YORK (AP) — Intrigue and uncertainty have surrounded the New York Jets' quarterback situation all offseason.

Corey Davis might have provided a little clarity. Or just inadvertently added to the mystery.

The former Tennessee Titans wide receiver said Tuesday he signed with the Jets last week with the belief that Sam Darnold will be the team's quarterback this season — despite speculation New York might go elsewhere with the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL draft next month.

“I’m coming in with my understanding that Sam is the guy,” Davis said during a video conference call. “That doesn’t scare me away at all. I’ve seen Sam do great things. I have every belief in him and whatever direction they decide to go, it's on me to make sure that I'm ready and control what I can control.

"So, come in and get ready to catch from whoever.”

Davis was asked in a follow-up question to clarify that when he signed his three-year deal worth $37.5 million with the Jets, it was with the thought he'll be catching passes in Week 1 from Darnold.

“Yes, that’s my understanding," Davis said. "Correct.”

Darnold, the No. 3 overall pick in 2018, has struggled with inconsistency and injuries during his three seasons with the Jets. He has shown a few flashes of the playmaking ability that made him so coveted by teams coming out of USC, but he has not come close to living up to his lofty draft status.

Darnold has thrown for 45 touchdowns and has 39 interceptions in 38 games. He's coming off his worst statistical season — nine TDs, 11 INTs — and never meshed with former coach Adam Gase in their two seasons together. Darnold's lowly 59.8 completion percentage is alarming, and there are concerns whether he needs to go elsewhere to clean up his mechanics and clear his head.

General manager Joe Douglas also acknowledged last month that he would listen to teams if they call asking about Darnold.

All of that has many fans and media predicting the Jets will go for BYU's Zach Wilson or Ohio State's Justin Fields at No. 2. New York was also mentioned in potential trade rumors with Houston's Deshaun Watson, who wants to be dealt by the Texans but is dealing with legal issues as he faces 14 lawsuits alleging sexual assault.

But Davis, who spent the last two seasons catching passes from Ryan Tannehill in Tennessee, likes some of the things he has seen from Darnold.

“Obviously, he can make some great throws,” Davis said. "He's definitely a guy that I look forward to working with. He's a great leader. I've heard a few things from just talking to guys on the team. I'm looking forward to playing with him. He's a competitor and we can both learn from each other.

“He's young and we're both growing and we can grow together."

The 26-year-old Davis said he was attracted to the Jets because of new coach Robert Saleh, echoing the sentiments of new defensive lineman Carl Lawson — with both saying they liked his energy and approach.

“He's the right guy to come in here and turn things around,” Davis said. “That's what I believe. That's why I came here. I believe in his message and I believe in what he brings to the table.”

The Jets also believe in what Davis can provide an offense that has struggled mightily the past few seasons — regardless of who has been under center.

Davis, who received $27.5 million in guaranteed money from the Jets, tied a career best with 65 receptions in 12 games and set personal highs with 984 yards receiving and five touchdowns. He would have easily eclipsed 1,000 yards receiving if not for missing two games after testing positive for the coronavirus.

The No. 5 overall pick in the 2017 draft believes he will elevate his game even more and prove he's a No. 1 wide receiver.

“I mean, just in my ability to get open, my speed, separation," he said, "I feel like I can do it all.”

There's also a sentimental aspect to Davis joining the Jets. His older brother Titus, who died last November at 27 from kidney cancer, had two stints on New York's practice squad during his brief NFL career.

Corey wears a dog tag around his neck — along with a medallion of praying hands — that a fan made for him that serves as a constant reminder.

“My brother was everything to me,” he said. "I tried to walk like him, I tried to talk like him, I tried to do everything like him. I looked up to him tremendously. Without him, I’m not who I am. I wouldn’t be playing this game. He’s the reason I picked up a football in the first place. It’s not only just a football thing, but it’s a life thing. That was my guy. I turned to him in every situation and he will be missed.

“And it definitely means a little bit more to me, just knowing that he wore the green and white as well.”

NOTES: The team announced DB Lamarcus Joyner officially signed his one-year, $4.5 million deal with the Jets. ... New York signed LB Del'Shawn Phillips, who played in two games last season for Buffalo. He was signed by Atlanta as an undrafted free agent in 2019 but was waived after training camp and then signed to the Bills' practice squad.

More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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