By Teresa Varley
If rookie linebacker Bruce Davis has any questions about life in the NFL, he won't have to go far for an answer. The Steelers third-round draft pick from UCLA only has to pick up his phone and call home.
His father, Bruce Davis, Sr., played offensive tackle for the Oakland Raiders and Houston Oilers, a career that spanned from 1979-89.
"It was the best experience that I could have as a little boy," said Davis. "Every kid wants to grow up being like their dad, and I'm no exception. It just so happens that my dad was an NFL football player.
"He was always there for me growing up. He would help me scout out the guys that I would be playing the next week in college. He has been a great tool to have."
Davis started every game last season for UCLA at right defensive end and amassed a team-high 12 tackles. He also led the Bruins with 15.5 tackles for a loss.
He will make a change in the NFL, though, as the Steelers plan on using him at outside linebacker. It's something that he welcomes.
"I actually played outside linebacker my sophomore year at UCLA," said the 6-3, 252 pound Davis. "I went to the Senior Bowl as an outside linebacker. I feel very comfortable and feel that I have the skills to do so."
And the Steelers feel just as comfortable with him making that move. He won't immediately be earmarked at the right or left outside spot, but instead work on both sides to see if he can be a player who can give the team some options.
"We've got to have somebody that can swing, play the left and right," said linebackers coach Keith Butler. "We think he can do that and we think he can play inside linebacker if he had too. Coach (Dick) LeBeau liked that aspect of him from guys he's had here in the past."
The Steelers have a long tradition of converting defensive ends in a 4-3, to outside linebackers in the 3-4. They did so with Jason Gildon, Joey Porter and Clark Haggans, all of them having success.
"That's a great sign," said Davis. "There is definitely a rich tradition at outside linebacker. It is a great feeling to know that the coaching staff, and hopefully the people of Pittsburgh feel the same way about me. I know the tradition that I have to carry on. Tradition is very important to me."