GREEN BAY – A recurring trend has developed this offseason whenever there’s a discussion surrounding which receivers are primed to compete for the Packers’ No. 2 and No. 3 jobs.
In most cases, Geronimo Allison, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Equanimeous St. Brown, J’Mon Moore and Jake Kumerow are the names most commonly associated with being candidates to line up next to two-time Pro Bowler Davante Adams in 2019.
After the first four public practices of organized team activities and minicamp, however, fourth-year receiver Trevor Davis has quietly inserted himself into that conversation.
“A guy that may have been forgotten a little bit is Trevor Davis,” Head Coach Matt LaFleur after Tuesday’s minicamp practice. “I’ve been really impressed with him. I feel like he’s come a long way. The effort and the intensity level with which he practices has certainly improved.”
Davis, the longest-tenured receiver on the Packers’ roster besides Adams, has flown under the radar due to a mix of injuries and opportunity in recent years. Playing behind stalwarts Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and James Jones at different intervals of his career, the former fifth-round pick has caught eight passes for 94 yards on 193 offensive snaps through three NFL seasons.
Davis carved out a niche on the Packers’ special team units, finishing third in punt return average (12.0) and tied for seventh on kickoff returns (22.8) in 2017, before a hamstring injury limited to him to only two appearances last year.
Finally healthy again, Davis not only has adjusted well to the special teams units of new coordinator Shawn Mennenga, but he’s also making the most of the offensive reps thrown his way.
Last week, Davis garnered a roar of applause from fans gathered at Clarke Hinkle Field when the 6-foot-1, 188-pound receiver soared to pull down an 18-yard pass from quarterback Aaron Rodgers during a move-the-ball team period in practice.
Based on Rodgers’ testimony, it wasn’t the first time Davis has made those type of plays this spring.
“He’s making a lot of plays,” Rodgers said. “We joke about how the perfect throw to Trevor is behind him, way in front of him or above his head where he’s got to jump, because he’s almost 100 percent on those plays. … Every day, there’s been one play he’s made that jumps out on the film.”
Davis’ calling card has always been his speed. As a rookie, he was considered one of the fastest players on the roster after running a 4.42 in the 40 at the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine.
That athleticism made him an ideal fit for the Packers’ return team and their coverage units, where he formed a potent one-two punch with fellow receiver Jeff Janis as gunners on the punt teams for a time.
Davis might have received a look at receiver last offseason if it hadn’t been for the hamstring injury, which forced him to start the year on injured reserve. He was activated off IR in November, only to aggravate the injury two weeks later in Minnesota.
Davis hasn’t experienced any setbacks so far this spring, which has enabled him to be a full participant throughout the installations of LaFleur’s new offense.
“It’s something I’ve never been through. I’ve never really had any hamstring issues,” Davis said. “I just had to push through it and figure out all the steps. Really going through it helped me out a lot to figure out my body and what I need to get right. I feel really good coming into this one.”
While Davis has put himself in contention for offensive snaps once training camp begins in late July, he still figures to play a part in the Packers’ plans for their renovated special teams. Addressing reporters on Tuesday, Rodgers lauded Davis as a “top five” returner when he’s healthy.
Having played against Davis during his time as Cleveland’s special teams coordinator in 2016, Mennenga has a good feel for the type of playmaker he’s inheriting and is excited about how Davis could potentially fit into his scheme.
“He’s got a lot of big-play ability, having experience back there returning kickoffs and punts,” Mennenga said. “But the other thing I think people forget about is he’s also a good cover player. He’s a good gunner and he’s a good cover player on kickoffs. To get a guy that can return both punts and kickoffs and cover kicks is invaluable.”
Davis hopes to compete for playing time at both receiver and returner. He believes the fresh start LaFleur’s offense presents partnered with the experience of playing three years with Rodgers will only help him in achieving those goals.
“I’m coming in here as though it’s a clean slate,” Davis said. “I’m coming in here to compete, and at the end of the day if we all compete, we have a really good receiver room and we can all make each other better.”