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New offense offers clean slate for Packers' confident Davis

-- 2018 was a tough year for Trevor Davis.

At least that's how he would describe it; a year in which he battled a nagging hamstring injury that spent a large part of the regular-season on injured reserve.

Not only did it stunt the significant progress he made as a return man the season prior, but it put his roster status for the future in jeopardy as he enters a contract year. But the reality is, Davis may not even be in a position to play out the remainder of his contract -- it's just a matter of whether or not he makes the Green Bay Packers' 53-man roster in September.

Another reality: he's the best return man on their roster right now. He very well may already have a roster spot penciled in, especially if he's able to show that he can also function as a receiver this summer.

"I feel confident," Davis told Packers.com on Tuesday after the first of three consecutive minicamp practices. "I had a big offseason getting everything right, getting my body right, things like that. We have a year's worth of not a lot of tape basically, new coaching staff and whatnot. Really, it's a clean slate coming out here and showing what I can do every day."

Under new head coach Matt LaFleur, Davis' speed could provide an ideal match-up problem and a possible versatile threat when lined up in creative positions. It's an offense that Davis feels fits his style of play.

There isn't going to be much of a chance for Davis to find a permanent spot on the team's depth chart at wide receiver, but situational need could determine his playing time. As one of the fastest players on the roster, there are a plethora of packages that could showcase his flexibility that would just require getting the ball in his hands.

But Davis' biggest responsibility -- and best chance at cracking the roster -- will more than likely serve as the team's primary return man. An area in which he was top-five in the league in 2017.

After playing in all 16 games in 2017, Davis' 289 punt return yards ranked sixth in the league for an average of 12.04 yards per return. Yet, his 24 returns were the fewest of any player ahead of him. He was just as dynamic on kickoffs as well, finishing with 707 kick return yards for the fourth-most of any returner.

"The key for Trevor is just staying healthy. When he's healthy, he's been productive for us," said quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who has formulated his own on-field rapport -- even if lately it has just been on the practice field -- with Davis during the last three seasons.

"He's been a top-five return guy when he's fully healthy. The tough thing is finding opportunities to get him on the field, but obviously, with Jordy [Nelson], James [Jones] and Randall [Cobb] gone, there's opportunities for him to get in the mix at receiver."

It's a deep receiver room to crack, but being a familiar face and providing a multi-positional impact to the roster could improve Davis' chances of sticking around, even if the opportunities are scarce on offense.

Davis has also shown that he's capable of being a serviceable gunner on punt coverage, only adding to his value. It's just one of the reasons why several members of the Packers' coaching staff have praised Davis at various points throughout the offseason, including LaFleur, who reaffirmed how impressed he was with Davis' journey on Tuesday.

It's possible that the final roster spot at receiver could come down to either one of Davis or Jake Kumerow, one of Rodgers' most beloved targets. Both of which have flashed during the offseason program.

"You gotta set your goals high," Davis said. "I’m coming in here as though it's a clean slate. I’m coming in here to compete. At the end of the day, if we compete, we have a really good receiver room, we could all make each other better. At the end of the day, it’s going to make our team better.

"I feel confident in myself. It’s good to be this far along in OTAs and have no hiccups or anything like that, to be able to go out there and play confident. The first few days I was feeling it out and whatnot, and now it’s just full go."

__________________________

Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV. He's the voice of The Leap on iTunes and can be heard on The Scoop KLGR 1490 AM every Saturday morning. He's also a contributor on the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (39) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

RCPackerFan's picture

Davis is a top special teams player. IF he makes it on the 53 it will most likely be due to his special teams player.

That being said, I do wonder if in this offense if he may have a greater impact in. We have to remember this is a new offense, with new coaches. They may find ways to use Davis' speed more. They may like his skillset more. For that reason alone I won't write off anyone, especially Davis.

I'm looking forward to training camp and preseason games to see who stands out. Davis could be one of those guys.

Coldworld's picture

I just got off diving into his comparatives from the combine. He is slower than MVS, considerably lighter and four inches shorter. Yet long speed is his best attribute.

We all seem to assume he is lightning in terms of agility and short area. In fact, Moore and Adams blow his socks off despite being taller and heavier. It is not even close. EQ is actually pretty comparable and he is bigger still.

Since Davis wasn’t a primary receiver in college and has done little here, athleticism is pretty much all there is to go on. The more I looked, the less case I could find to support Davis being better even in the slot than others on the roster.

An open mind is good, but this guy is not a route runner like Allison or Kumerow either, and I perceive them as having better hands and red zone value. It’s great that all receivers get a level field to prove stats and perceptions wrong, but I confess that the more I look, the more I fear that Davis will, if kept, just keep a more valuable offensive player or prospect off the roster.

jannes bjornson's picture

Davis will have to fight it out with Moore and Shepherd for the number six WR spot/Returner. No point in keeping seven WRs; it's a better use of the roster spot for another TE or D lineman.

stockholder's picture

No he won't. 26 offense, 24 defense. Adams #1. MVS and St Brown have talent and the speed for Routes. . Allison and Kumerow are Trusted vets. (Have the Hands) Moore must show his improvement. (Adams did.) Davis is your Returner. And if any of the front six fail or get hurt. He will be the sixth Wr. The last two WRs have never been brought up to the Gameday Status. Davis will be used and not sit. It's ridicules to believe T. Williams and Alexander, will be the #1 Punt Returner. Davis gets the spot before a TE or RB.

TheVOR's picture

I wouldn't even consider him a top special teams player, and if you're going to keep a guy as a pure return man, he needs to be a Desmond Howard talent. This guy should have been cut 2 years ago. Wasted roster spot with no genuine upside. I'd like to see him gone, dude has brought nothing to the table as a WR.

I think the reason he's getting the premium reps right now is they want to see if he has genuine merit as a WR, and I think that question was answered a couple of years ago already. Should have been cut 2 seasons ago. Not a fan, too many other guys I want to see make this roster at WR.

The notion that he's somehow a great special teams player is also a misnomer. I'd argue anyone on the roster could be as successful returning the football.

stockholder's picture

I say he will make it. Davis is that threat. He is dangerous. His return ability will put him on the roster. Field position is everything. Davis is do to break out. He only needs not to fumble. Have faith people. Look what the packers did with Adams. You want a player with the ability to score. Davis has that ability.

PeteK's picture

Fully agree Stock, we tried just about everybody at the crucial return position, including Alexander, with no success. He is a sure handed veteran with some burst.

Samson's picture

Sorry RC, but you pretty much have this same attitude about everyone on the 90 man roster. --- Reminder--- The regular season roster is 53. -- Many of these players won't be living anymore at the Holiday Inn-Green Bay after August.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

What is it the 3 people dislike about this comment?

This site has become such an adversarial place. It used to be a great place to talk about football. No wonder good folks like the TKstinator don't come back.

Daren726's picture

I don’t think he was in good graces with the former coaching staff and, maybe, Aaron Rodgers. He was only kept for special teams. I think now, with the new staff and system, he may get a fair shot. Also, they may come up with design plays to feature his speed and get him the ball. I’m excited with all the possibilities with this new regime.

MarkinMadison's picture

Really, when you look at how long it can take a WR to develop, there is a lot of reason to have a little bit of hope that he turns into a player this year.

Handsback's picture

He has proven to be a good return player. So far he has also been lacking as a WR. His position on the team probably lies more with ST than as a #4 wideout. Can he become a #3 receiver and really solidify his roster status? That will have to be answered during TC.

Point Packer's picture

What weed strain you smoke? I need to get some of that.

Samson's picture

#3 --?? ---Davis may not be capable of #6.

jeepingmakooi's picture

Imagine the speed on the field.. Davis mvs eq and Adams all at the same time..

Guam's picture

Wish I believed Davis is more than just a ST player, but I haven't seen enough to date to convince me he is an NFL WR. Hopefully he makes an unexpected jump and competes at WR this year. Otherwise he may be a numbers game casualty.

blacke00's picture

Speed means nothing if they can run the routes properly.

If Davis can't make the team as a receiver this year he never will. The question is...."can he stay healthy?"

D Ernie's picture

Ask yourself, if he was cut would you miss him?

Point Packer's picture

Not in the slightest.

A Pickled Packer's picture

If it's a toss up between Davis or Kumorow, I hope they pick Trevor Davis, because if Kumerow gets in we'll all constantly be hearing his politically incorrect and disrespectful to those who are religious nickname which irks me everytime I hear it. Now if Jake were to cut his hair and look regular then maybe the nickname touchdown Jesus would disappear and I'll be rootin' for him instead.

Coldworld's picture

Hmm, religions worthy of respect would caution against discrimination against an individual or group based upon something that is of no fault of their own in this day and age I would hope.

J0hn Denver's Gavel's picture

Do you really think his haircut will keep him from making the team?

jeremyjjbrown's picture

What?

Adorabelle's picture

I'd never heard that nickname. Are you sure you aren't trying to just get it started?

Sol's picture

When I look at Trevor Davis I see someone of similar size and stature of one of our Packer greats Donald Driver, who never became a starter until his fourth year in the league. I have never heard about him being nothing but a team player always trying to do what his coaches ask.

I vote to give him one more year to see what the new coaching staff and fresh start does for his career. After all you can only have so many 6-4 receivers on the team a little scheming and mix up might help keep the opponents off balance and guessing a little more.

If the new coaching staff can breath a little more confidence into him you might be surprised what comes out of the bottle.

Coldworld's picture

Driver was an excellent route runner and showed phenomenal hands and ability to go up and contest by the time he broke out in his 4th year.

Other than attitude, Driver was also an Olympic standard high jumper, something that made a big difference for a smaller receiver. He qualified for the 1996 Olympic Field Trials and was considered to be a likely candidate to qualify for the 2000 Summer Olympics team in the high jump.

That is a pretty special athlete. So yes, not impossible, but Driver has a great work ethic that enabled him to catch up once in the NFL, natural hands and phenomenal agility to which he later added strength enabling him to play much taller than his actual size without losing speed and to dominate defensive backs. Something he showed in what I think was his last long touchdown, well into his 30s.

If Davis has those extra ingredients (or equivalents) I will be delighted, but Driver is a tremendous character who possessed an singular determination and work ethic as well as freakish agility. A rare individual and player.

Demon's picture

I must have missed something. I didnt see a very good return man. I saw a guy who made terrible decisions and had trouble tracking the ball. Are we supposed to believe that a guy who couldnt be trained to make a simple decision of whether or not to return a kick is going to be able to to play WR?

Point Packer's picture

I’m not sure why Trevor Davis made the team in the first place. Wait, I know why dumb dumb Mikey Mac and senile Teddy T were at the helm. Must have been playing the odds....

Samson's picture

Gute & MLF will set things straight... All 53 roster spots have suddenly become more important than in TT/MM's reign of terror. --- My guess: .... Davis will be looking for another team by the end of August.

Point Packer's picture

As he should have been the year he was drafted.

IceBowl's picture

Point Packer,

You say .... "dumb dumb Mikey Mac and senile Teddy T were at the helm."

Glad you are giving us your free GM advise.

I'm not sure why they didn't ask you in the first place.

Oh yes, I am sure.

cheesehead1's picture

Davis as a receiver? I’ll believe it when I see it. He’s been an all star every year until the pads come on. Here’s hoping he proves us all wrong and makes a big jump.

sam1's picture

Davis will be on final 53 if no injury! 12 yard average return means one less first down every possession that won't have to be gained by offense! So many here say decision making, yes trying to decide each return to do what with he worst SP ahead of you and defenders right there when about to catch ball!

IceBowl's picture

Davis is lighting in a bottle. Perfect for the slot, as well as a returner.

What is wrong with that?

jannes bjornson's picture

29 games played to date, One TD. Zero TDs scored as a Kick returner or PR.
J'Moore at least ripped off a couple of big returns in 2018 that were called back by holding calls on J Jones etc. Move on from these pre-season superstars and put real players on the field. Lazard is a better receiver.

IceBowl's picture

jannes bjornson'

Please.... How many returners have double digit TD's? How many have 5?

He averages over 22 yds per return. Not chump change.

PeteK's picture

If Moore was so good why was Davis returning kicks by the end of the season.

PatrickGB's picture

Just a couple of nitpicking points to some of the posters here. First Davis is a very good gunner on STs. That has value. And the second minor point is that Jake actually DID cut his hair. Besides, TC will sort things out before the season actually starts.

SterlingSharpe's picture

Davante
Geronimo
Marquez

Barring injuries, these 3 WR's will get over 90% of the WR targets.

#4 is a battle between EQ & Kumerow.
Trevor & J'Mon, no way. Cross them off.

As far as returners go, Davis is best among all of them, so I think the big cut will be J'Mon Moore and they'll keep Davis.

But we'll see how each does in training camp. Davis might not last without another soft tissue pull.

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