GREEN BAY – In case anyone had any doubts, the receiver competition in Packers training camp is alive and well.
The first practice in full pads Sunday was a prime example, as fourth-year pro Trevor Davis was having a whale of a day, only to be outshined momentarily by an impressive Jake Kumerow grab on a contested fade down the Ray Nitschke Field sideline.
"It's real competitive, and it just makes us better," Davis said as the Packers headed into their first day off of camp, with practice Tuesday next up. "But it's nothing you can really think about. All you can think about is how you want to be a better player for your team."
Davis was arguably the best player on the field for a while Sunday. In one-on-ones against the cornerbacks, he made a leaping, highlight-reel catch and tapped both feet in bounds, and later beat another defender on a comeback route for a smooth reception.
Then he made several grabs in 11-on-11 with multiple quarterbacks, including one from Aaron Rodgers when he kept himself alive along the sideline on an extended play. Had DeShone Kizer not overthrown him when he got open deep on one of his first 11-on-11 snaps, he'd have elicited the loudest cheer of the day. He also would love to have come down with a catch in traffic that got knocked away at the last second, but the overall performance stood out nonetheless.
It built on a positive showing in the spring, when Davis began putting his injury-riddled lost season of 2018 behind him. As the preseason unfolds, he'll be looking to reclaim the punt- and kick-return jobs he excelled in two years ago, but to earn a roster spot he'll also need to prove he can be a weapon in new Head Coach Matt LaFleur's offense.
"Trevor I thought had a solid OTAs," LaFleur said. "It's just, can you consistently do it day in and day out? And when we get to the preseason, can that transition to the games?"
That'll be the next step, but in the meantime, he won't mind continuing to celebrate catches with Kumerow. When Davis made the toe-tap play in one-on-ones, Kumerow ran over to him right away for a mid-air body bump.
Kumerow's noteworthy sideline catch came not long after, and it's fitting the two had a good day together after both dealt with extended stints on injured reserve last season.
"That definitely helped us become a lot closer," Kumerow said. "We were on IR last year, battling the same situation. We play the same position, but at the same time, he's a good guy and I want to see him succeed. If I see him make a catch, I'm going to get excited.
"It's not just IR that made us close. We talk a lot and try to get these plays studied together, trying to get it right."
Kumerow added the knowledge of the offense among the entire receiver group is in a much better place now compared to the spring. It's taken a lot of extra time on their own, writing and re-writing notes to commit things to memory.
For all the talk about the position in May and June, the competition never really got underway because everyone was just trying to get familiar with the playbook.
"Learning this offense was tough at first going through OTAs, but coming through second time around, it feels like a world of difference," Kumerow said. "Guys are catching on a lot quicker, there's not as much confusion in the huddle, and guys are sprinting to their spots a lot quicker."
Thus far, Geronimo Allison and Marquez Valdes-Scantling have taken more reps alongside Davante Adams with the No. 1 offense than anyone else, but they've all gotten their chances here and there with the ones, including Davis, Kumerow, Equanimeous St. Brown, J'Mon Moore, Allen Lazard and Darrius Shepherd.
For his part, Kumerow has continued to be a steady presence in practice, much like last year when he was the underdog story of camp until a preseason shoulder injury sidelined him for three months. He rebounded from that to get on the active roster by season's end and catch a 49-yard TD pass from Rodgers in Week 16.
"Jake's a consistent guy that's extremely reliable, and you can trust he's going to be where he's supposed to be within the timing of a play," LaFleur said. "He's a big guy that can go up and make some plays in what we like to call 50-50 balls."
Just how this receiver competition is going to shake out is a toss-up in itself, but by all accounts it's just getting started.
"The fact we have all this competition is more exciting than not," Davis said, "because being that competitive means we're going to be pretty damn good."
Take a look at photos from the fourth day of #PackersCamp.