Gabe Davis spent the summer getting bigger, faster and stronger in preparation for the 2022 NFL season. His teammates have already taken note of the improved version of the Bills' third-year wide receiver during the first week of training camp.
"All he knows is work," said quarterback Josh Allen. "He wants to be the best receiver he can be."
There are bigger expectations this year for Davis who figures to be featured as the team's No. 2 WR across from Stefon Diggs. After all, the last time Davis took the field he caught eight passes for 201 yards and four touchdowns in the AFC Divisional Playoff Game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
And while it was Davis' breakout game from a national perspective, he had been ascending well before then.
"It wasn't more so that game (vs. Chiefs) because he had the ability before that. You saw it week in and week out, especially as a receiver, you get to see that guy every day," said Diggs.
Davis caught 10 passes in the Bills' first eight games a season ago. But from Week 9 on, Davis closed the regular season with 25 catches for 416 yards and four touchdowns. His four TDs during that span ranked tied for second on the team among pass-catchers, the other being TE Dawson Knox. Diggs led the Bills with seven TDs from Week 9 on.
"Right now, Gabe is having a hell of a career if you consider for a young guy," said Diggs. "And that second year all he did was make the second-year jump, to me at least. And I wasn't surprised by it at all."
As for Davis himself, he's going into the year understanding that more will be asked of him on a weekly basis and making sure his body is ready to handle the increased workload. There were no vacations or getaways during the offseason for Davis, just more time in the weight room where he added additional muscle to get up to 228 pounds.
"It's a big season this year, I know how important it is to everybody in the room. And I want to be able to have those guys trust me. I know I have to be confident and to get my confidence up, I have to be able to train at my best," said Davis.
Less than a week into the Bills training camp, Davis is already seeing the benefit of his offseason regimen. He's had good rapport with Josh Allen early on, especially on day four of camp where Davis caught two touchdowns during the red zone session. He looks fluid with his route running and has been able to create separation.
"I'll be getting a lot more snaps than I am used to. But, again, I've trained for it," said Davis.
Added his head coach Sean McDermott: "I love Gabe, I think he's off to a great start. He had a great offseason. I know he's worked his butt off to put himself in a position to be there for his teammates."
One thing Davis has had to learn in his first two years in Buffalo is how to be patient and be ready for when his opportunity comes. Last year, Davis started the season on the depth chart behind now-departed WRs Emmanuel Sanders and Cole Beasley. It's taken a little bit for Davis to truly shine with the Bills, but now he's finally seeing the recognition for his hard work.
"Patience is key in this game. It taught me a lot these past two years, I've learned how to have it. The time that I had to sit back and watch and learn from a lot of great players," he said. "It feels good to know that the work that I've put in is finally coming to light."
The third year for an NFL player is often when they start to make the transition from 'young guy' to 'veteran' in terms of their locker room status. With two full seasons under his belt and several new faces in the wide receiver room, including rookie Khalil Shakir, Davis has the chance to be a leader in the group.
"You try to teach the guys that are just coming in and things that you've been through and what you struggle with. Let them know that if there's similar situations that they're in to know that they just have to be patient," said Davis.
With lofty goals for the team's offense, Davis is excited about the plethora of weapons on that side of the ball and the opportunity for everyone to truly showcase their talent once the season starts.
"We got the right pieces of the puzzle to do what we want to do this year. And when it comes to just us as a team as a whole, it's going to be real special," he said.