Vontae Davis felt disrespected by Colts’ handling of demotion

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - DECEMBER 27: Vontae Davis #21 of the Indianapolis Colts intercepts the ball in the endzone during the first quarter of the game against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium on December 27, 2015 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Vontae Davis isn’t arguing whether he should have lost his starting cornerback job last weekend.

Check video from recent games, he conceded. A lingering groin injury has cut into his effectiveness.

“My tape isn’t horrible,’’ Davis said Wednesday, “but my tape isn’t me.

“I had a talk with coach and he told me I didn’t look healthy, I didn’t look like myself from looking at game film and knowing the high level I can play.’’

Davis’ issue is with how his demotion was announced. It should have been handled, he said during a lengthy Wednesday meeting with the media, with the respect due a player in his sixth year with the team who twice has been selected to the Pro Bowl.

The Colts surprisingly announced Saturday Davis would not make the trip to Houston, only offering it was not related to an injury. Despite repeated questions after the game, Chuck Pagano’s answer never wavered: Coach’s decision.

Pressed Monday on whether Davis would return to the starting lineup Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pagano was cryptic.

“Everybody has to earn everything around here,’’ he said.

Why didn’t Pagano mention the groin injury?

“I can’t control what coach P said,’’ replied Davis, who has grown close to Pagano since the Colts acquired him in a 2012 trade with Miami.

Why hasn’t Pagano mentioned the groin injury?

“That’s not my responsibility,’’ Davis said.

Are he and Pagano in agreement?

“Um, it’s agreement, disagreement, however you want to call it,’’ Davis said. “I mean, it’s just unfortunate.

“It’s a disagreement because I feel like I was demoted because of my health instead of my ability. The agreement is I take full responsibility (that) I’m not myself, I’m not Vontae Davis.’’

It also irritated Davis the initial news of the demotion was delivered by defensive coordinator Ted Monachino and position coach Greg Williams, not Pagano.

“When I look at the situation, I feel like there was no respect,’’ Davis said. “Knowing Chuck, I figured it would come from him. It really bothered me.

“You want to know why and it should be more about respect.’’

Davis’ meeting with Pagano apparently was spirited.

“Yeah, of course, of course,’’ he said. “You want to know why? I’m a grown man. There should be more respect. I’m a professional. I’ve been here long enough.

“This is more about respect than anything. I just feel in this situation, there was no respect whatsoever.’’

Davis suffered a groin tear in the third preseason game at Pittsburgh that forced him to miss the first three games of the season. He returned week 4 at Seattle, but has been in a weekly balancing act between rehabbing the groin injury and playing on Sunday. The last time he was listed on the injury report with a groin issue was heading into the Seahawks game, and that week was a full participant in all three practices.

Davis had his usual Wednesday off for rest last week, and was a full participant Thursday and Friday. That gave no indication of what was to come.

In retrospect, Davis said he should have handled the injury differently.

“You guys know I had a significant injury, a significant groin tear,’’ he said. “I got different opinions on it. One doctor told me I should have had surgery on it. Another doctor told me to let it heal. I picked the let-it-heal approach and I probably came back a little too early. I probably hurt my teammates.’’

Davis will see limited practice time this week, but added he won’t play Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“Until I get to the point I feel like Vontae Davis, then I’m not going to play,’’ he said. “I know the level I can play at.’’

Davis was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2014 and ’15, and did not allow a touchdown pass in ’14 while generating four interceptions and a team-high 18 defended passes.

“I’m working to try and get back like I have from previous injuries,’’ he said. “It hasn’t worked for me.

“In the past I’ve played through injuries and it’s never been a big deal. I was able to get back and help my team. But now, knowing that I’ve been injured and I’m not myself, it’s a big deal and I get demoted. That’s where the frustration came from me. It’s nothing I did. I know I can play.’’

The lingering groin injury and demotion are the latest wrinkles in what has been a trying season. Prior to the NFL’s Oct. 31 trade deadline, it was reported general manager Chris Ballard was open to trading his veteran cornerback.

Davis, 29, is in the final year of a four-year, $39 million contract, and it’s hard to imagine him returning for a seventh season in Indy.

“Change is good. Change is good,’’ he said. “That’s all I’m going to leave you with.’’

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