Many people think Dolphins’ wide receiver Davone Bess is a slot receiver, but he’s not and the numbers prove it. He’s a versatile player that lines up all over the field. Not only that, but he’s one of the more underrated receivers who since his rookie season has consistently improved year over year and approached 80 catches in 2010.
I spent some time with ever improving Bess to talk about his game, the Dolphins and his recent charity work in his hometown.
Steve Wyremski (SW): How’s the offseason going so far? What have you been up to?
Davone Bess (DB): It’s going really good. You know, same old. Preparing as if there wasn’t a lock out. Working out. I’ve got my trainers out here from Hawaii. I’m just grinding, man. Getting better every day.
SW: What’s a typical day for you like right now?
DB: Well… today’s Friday and it’s a conditioning and agility day. We’re actually going to the beach in about an hour. We got a couple of beach workouts. On a typical day, we get up about 7 o’clock and meet at the gym at about 7:45 and do our first session, which consists of some form of upper body lifting or lower body lifting. We break, roll-out and stretch a little bit, come back to the house, eat lunch and go back and finish the rest of our workout. It’s kind of a two-a-day session, but when I say two-a-day I don’t know if you’re thinking that we’re going crazy and burning ourselves out, but we’re working different muscle groups at a time.
SW: What do you make of the lockout and the CBA issues?
DB: Me personally… I’m just ready to play football. I’m ready to get back with my teammates and start building that team chemistry and that confidence in each other. This is where you make the season with the bonding you do with your teammates. Obviously we have a new offensive coordinator so that’s really important. I just want to get something done ASAP and getting things rolling again.
SW: What do you think the impact of the new offensive coordinator will have on your role?
DB: You know what… I don’t know. I hadn’t really met with him and talked with him too much. I heard he has a New England and Jet background. Both of those offenses are really explosive, so I’m actually excited and looking forward to it.
SW: I gotta ask. Do you miss living in Hawaii? I know you said you’re working out on the beach, so you’re not in too bad of a spot, but you have to miss Hawaii, right?
DB: Oh yeah, I love Hawaii. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about it. It’s definitely my home away from home. I can’t complain to go from California to Hawaii to Miami, though. Mother nature’s been on my side.
SW: [Explains PFF and the ranking system], in our rankings in 2010, you were the #15 overall rated wide receiver according to the PFF scores, but you still don’t seem to get the respect you deserve and aren’t talked about enough by the masses. What gives?
DB: I think it goes back to when I was in college. My Coach June Jones did a great job at preparing me for the next level. Not only physically, but mentally… understanding coverages, the soft spots in the zones, leverage, and attacking leverage. From that point, just having great guys around me like Chad Pennington who’s been in the league for X amount of years and helping me as a rookie to be able to contribute right away. With all that said, I take pride in trying to be the best I can be. Like you said, I’m still underrated up until this point in my career. That’s something that I feed off of. I love it. It keeps me going and it keeps me humble. It makes me remember what it took me to accomplish where I’m at today. I approach every year as if I’m trying to make the team and I’m an undrafted rookie trying to make the roster. That’s the mindset I take into every off-season.
SW: In 2010, you broke 11 tackles which ranked you 5th overall among receivers. When you get the ball in your hands, do you just into beast mode?
DB: You know it! That’s what you call it right there – beast mode. My will and my determination will not fail me. It’s like whenever I got the ball in my hands, I’m trying to score a touchdown. I want to be a threat. I want defenses to know that every time I touch the ball, I’m looking to score and that’s the goal. I take pride in it and I’m looking forward to 2011.
SW: Any concerns with the talks that the Dolphins may draft a quarterback to ultimately replace Chad Henne?
DB: That’s not my decision. I don’t know what’s going on with that. That’s one thing about the Dolphins – they keep the business very separate from the players. Chad Henne’s a great young quarterback and I’m rooting for him, but whatever decision the front office makes, we have to live by it. I’m trying to make the most of what we got and help the Miami Dolphins win a championship.
SW: What about you and Brandon Marshall? You guys combined for 166 catches in 2010 which is the most for a Dolphins wide receiver duo in team history. Is there some mutual benefit between the two of you guys where he may get double coverage over the top and you’re opening up the field underneath?
DB: It goes both ways. I think that between me, him, and Brian Hartline we all complement each other very well because we all have different attributes to our game. We take pride in winning one-on-one because you can’t double-team everybody. If you double-team Brandon, Hartline is going to be open and if you double-team Hartline, I’m going to be open. Whoever has the opportunity to win, must win [one-on-one]. There’s no other option or excuse. It’s going to be exciting come time for the season.
SW: Many people have the perception that you’re a slot receiver, but when you look at the snap numbers you really line up all over the field. You lined up 25% of the time at each spot on the field (outside right, slot left, etc.). Do you have any preference?
DB: I’m happy you mentioned that. A lot of people like the media or the fans on Twitter following me are constantly commenting saying, “you’re the best slot receiver in the league” or “you’re the best slot-this… slot-that” and if I’m not mistaken, it seemed like I lined up outside just as much as I did in the slot. With that being said, I’m a football player and wherever my coaches need me, I’m going to play. Whether it’s in the backfield, outside or in the slot, I’m willing to do whatever.
SW: While you’re not a slot receiver, you do seem to be a 3rd down specialist. You had 28 catches in 2010 on 3rd downs for a first down which ranked 4th in the NFL. Why is that such a big part of your game?
DB: First and foremost, I credit my coaches for preparing me through the week and giving me the looks I need during practice. That way, when I get to the games it’s second nature. I love for my team to depend on me when it comes to moving the chains. I take pride in it. I love it. I give [my teammates] a lot of credit because there’s no way I’d be able to move the chains if Jake Long didn’t make his block, or Chad Henne isn’t taking the ball from Joe Berger and making the right throw, and Brandon Marshall isn’t running that route to take the safety off of me. I give all of my teammates the credit.
SW: I want to move off the football field and to the community and you giving back. Most recently you hosted a basketball event in your hometown out of Oakland and recruited a number of players to join you out there. How’d that go?
DB: It was special, man. I talked to my mom and my dad a couple of days ago and they said the city is still buzzing about it and everyone’s still talking about it. I feel like I’ve been through a lot. My journey has definitely been a roller coaster ride and I believe the “great man upstairs” put me in this position to make an impact. Not only for the youth, but everyone. I had a bunch of guys from my area and a lot of guys that I played with on the Miami Dolphins in previous years that came out to support and I want to thank them for coming out. [I want to] thank all the fans and all the sponsors for helping me do something really great city that has never been better.
SW: You were able to recruit a bunch of players whether it be Ronnie Brown, Marshawn Lynch or Dennis Dixon. How were you able to get those guys to come out there and help you?
DB: That was actually the easy part. With Marshawn and Dennis being from the Bay Area, that selection was really easy. I played against Marshawn and Dennis in high school and we all stayed tight. As far as Ronnie Brown, Brian Hartline and all of those guys… they’re friends of mine and know what I’m all about. They came out and it was a great time. The reason why I choose the Oakland police is because people in my community look at the police as bad people. This is my way of showing the youth that NFL players interact with law enforcement and we work hand in hand. [I wanted to show them] that law enforcement are normal people too. They don’t take pride in taking people to jail. I was just trying to show them that police officers are good people just like NFL players.
SW: Looking towards 2011, what are you most focused on to improve your game?
DB: Being a lot more consistent. Every day I wake up and train, I think about the season and how productive I was. Me ending the season with 79 catches; it definitely was a blessing. I was very happy and… not satisfied, but I’m moving up every year and that’s my goal. That 79 catches was kind of nasty compared to 80 catches. I look back and I dropped 6 balls that I knew I should have caught. It’s all good though, it keeps me humble and gives me something to work for next year. So, being more consistent and more reliable for my team whether it’s catching the ball, blocking, returning punts. I just want to be a lot more consistent in every aspect of the game.
SW: Earlier this week, Vontae Davis said that you were the fastest guy he’s faced up against and he’d rate you 99 speed in Madden. What do you think about that?
DB: [Laughs] Yeah, I saw that. I was cool with Vontae’s older brother (Vernon) because he plays for the 49ers and I’m from the Bay Area, so we kind of connected. When Vontae got drafted, I called Vernon and I told Vernon to put [Vontae] on the phone and I told him, “Congratulations, but you better get ready. You’ll have your hands full. I’m going to tear [you] up”. It’s always been a very good friendship / competitive relationship. Vontae’s a really good corner. I’ve gone against a bunch of guys in this league that are great and Vontae is definitely up there. It’s just a matter of him being more consistent, as well, and having that confidence. He’s definitely a future pro bowler.
SW: Toughest corner you’ve fast in your career to date in the NFL?
DB: With all due respect, I’ve faced a few guys, but if I had to pick one it would definitely be Darrelle Revis. He just knows how to make you guess. There were a couple of times where we’d go at it (he’d get me, I’d get him). The thing about him is that he’s very patient. You run into some corners that stick to one particular technique and try to take your game away and once I figure that out, it’s over because I know your weakness and what you’re trying to protect. With Revis, he’s very patient and he’s going to wait for you to do the first move and he’s going to react. [He’s] very smart, very explosive, and an overall good player.
SW: What do you think – 1,000 yard season and a Dolphin playoff appearance in 2011?
DB: There you go, man. That’s the goal. That is the goal.
Davone Bess is underrated, but not for long. Bess’s beast mode gets scarier each season. That has me eager to see what he has in store for 2011.