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WR Davis seeking fresh start with Buffalo Bills

Buffalo Bills' Craig Davis makes a catch during NFL football training camp Thursday, Aug. 4, 2011, in Pittsford, N.Y.
Buffalo Bills' Craig Davis makes a catch during NFL football training camp Thursday, Aug. 4, 2011, in Pittsford, N.Y.
David Duprey, Associated Press

PITTSFORD, N.Y. — Receiver Craig "Buster" Davis is so intent on getting a fresh start to his career with the Buffalo Bills that he's willing to forgo his nickname.

After four unproductive and injury-plagued seasons in San Diego, Davis is tired of hearing critics joke that you can't spell "Buster" without "Bust."

Davis wasn't laughing Friday, a day after signing a one-year contract with the Bills.

And he was also aware that dropping the nickname his grandmother gave him was merely a cosmetic change. The former LSU star understands the only way to change perceptions is to show he can finally live up to the expectations people had when he was the Chargers' first-round pick in 2007.

"The name has nothing to do with it," Davis said of his production. "It's up to me to take care of the situation on the field."

Listed at 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds, Davis is feeling healthier than he's been in years. He had surgery to repair a groin injury in November and spent the NFL lockout working out in Arizona. Once the Chargers — not unexpectedly — released him last week, he found a team in Buffalo where he at least had some familiarity.

He's reunited with Bills general manager Buddy Nix, who played a role in the Chargers drafting Davis in the first place.

"It feels good to come to a team that's willing to work to get better. And that's the same thing I'm trying to do," Davis said. "The new scenery is going to be a good thing for me. It's a great situation here, and I'm looking forward to it."

Davis' pro career has been mostly a dud. Selected 30th overall, he failed to make an impact on a Philip Rivers-led Chargers offense that has featured an undistinguished group of wide receivers.

Davis has 51 catches for 558 yards and two touchdowns in 26 career games, including two starts. He has seen more time on the NFL injury report, where he's been sideline by sore hips, ribs, hamstrings and an Achilles' tendon. Then there's a nagging groin injury for which he's had two operations.

"It's just not understanding my body, just freakish injuries and not knowing about it," Davis said. "I've been doing a real good job of keeping my body together and trying to prove to this front office that I can last a 16-game season and beyond that."

Davis, first, has to make the Bills.

A week into training camp in suburban Rochester, he's getting a late start in trying to break into what's become one of Buffalo's deepest positions. It's a group of receivers led by Lee Evans and Stevie Johnson and rounded out by Roscoe Parrish in the slot and third-down specialist David Nelson.

That leaves Davis competing for the fifth receiver spot with a group that includes 2010 fourth-round pick Marcus Easley, who missed his entire rookie season with a knee injury.

Coach Chan Gailey is keeping his options open regarding Davis.

"Craig has a ton of ability, but he's just never really done it," Gailey said. "He's worth taking a look at to see if he can do something special. He's really an extremely talented young man."

Notes: The Bills signed RBs Bruce Hall and Anthony Elzy on Friday. Hall rejoins the Bills after spending parts of the 2008-09 seasons on the team's practice squad. Elzy is an undrafted rookie free agent out of North Carolina. ... To make room on their roster, the Bills released RBs Emmanuel Moody and Vai Taua, both undrafted rookie free agents.