FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Mike Davis already knows he’s going to need help. Not from his offensive linemen or his quarterback or his new head coach, Arthur Smith. The veteran running back, coming home to play for the Atlanta Falcons, is going to need assistance elsewhere.
He’s going to need help managing tickets.
“I refuse to let this ticket thing get into my head,” Davis said Monday during his first availability as a Falcons back. “It has before when I was in San Fran. I refuse to let this mess up my time being in Atlanta.”
Davis appeared to be laughing his way through his answer, but the ticket situation could be very real for a player who could be Atlanta’s No. 1 running back this fall. The scenario he’s in -- coming home to play in the NFL for the team he grew up watching as a kid in the Bankhead section of the city -- is not something he ever could have imagined actually happening.
Not when he was in college at South Carolina. Not when he was drafted in the fourth round by San Francisco in 2015 and not when he played on three teams the past three seasons. He wasn’t even thinking about it, really, when his agent started surveying Davis’ potential free-agent options. “Never,” Davis said, did he think Atlanta might be an option.
All Davis knew is he didn’t want to go too far. That didn’t necessarily mean what ended up happening, which is that Davis will sleep in his own bed every night.
“I didn’t want to go anywhere far from home,” Davis said. “You know, I’ve done that a lot. The fact that I could stay at home and wake up in my own bed and not have to buy furniture or rent a place out, I was all for it.”
Davis called it a dream come true. A lot of players say that about a lot of situations. In Davis’ case, it’s reality. Davis said his late father, Michael Oliver, who died in 2019, would have been the Davis family member most excited about him coming home.
His brother, James, was happy enough that he couldn’t even let Davis tell their mother himself. By the time he even had a potential chance, James already had spilled the news.
But there’s real reason to believe whatever Davis family and friends who have tickets -- either received from Davis or purchased elsewhere -- will see a lot of the 28-year-old on the field this fall. New head coach Arthur Smith built one of the best rushing offenses in the league the last two years with Derrick Henry as the centerpiece.
Henry had 2,027 yards and 17 touchdowns last season. In 2019, Henry had 1,540 yards and 16 touchdowns. Davis said he’s unsure how Smith will use him yet, but he knows what Henry accomplished in Smith’s offense. So no complaints.
Davis might be ready for this role, too, if he can handle the workload. Last year, Davis had a career-high 165 carries. Henry, with 378, more than doubled it. And be clear -- Davis is not Henry. Very few backs are. Davis has potential to do more than he’s accomplished in the past, though. While he never rushed for 1,000 yards in a season he averaged 4.6 yards per carry in 2018 and 3.9 yards per carry (642 yards) last season as the starter when Christian McCaffrey went down.
That gave him a chance to see what it’s like to be a starter on a weekly basis. Now, he potentially enters one of the most run-friendly offenses in the league. So yeah, tickets might be a problem. But he was told not to worry. Toward the end of his first call with the media, a Falcons representative told him maybe the best news possible.
The Falcons, as you would think, have a person to handle that.
“It is really amazing to be home,” Davis said. “You can’t beat it.”