When he leaped, Trevor Davis’ mind went blank. Instincts took over. He saw the football. He caught the football. Simple as that.
Only, the Green Bay Packers rookie receiver’s introduction to training camp wasn’t simple at all. Here was a spectacular, one-handed reception. Catching an Aaron Rodgers pass, no less. Davis made the difficult look easy in his first camp practice.
Just don’t ask him to explain how he did it.
“I don’t really know,” Davis said. “The ones that are hardest to catch end up being the easiest, because you’re not really thinking about it. Just last second, you think about it and do it. So I was happy to make that play, I guess.”
It wasn’t the only play Davis made through camp’s first two practices. He has caught passes with cornerbacks draped on his back. He has used his 4.42 speed in the open field.
He has made an awfully strong first impression.
“Trevor did some nice things,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. “Made some nice plays. It’s about urgency with Trevor. He’s so quick and athletic. The more reps he gets with me, the better our rapport’s going to be. I’m excited for his opportunities.”
Now, Davis’ real test begins.
The Packers will wear pads for the first time this offseason when the reconvene Thursday morning at Ray Nitschke Field. Traditionally, the first day in pads is especially important for offensive and defensive linemen. For Davis, wearing pads is another test.
With all his speed, Davis isn’t known to overpower defenders. A fifth-round pick this spring, he measured 6-foot-1 but only 188 pounds at the NFL combine in February. He is the lightest receiver listed on the Packers roster. Even lighter than Randall Cobb, who is three inches shorter.
To this point, Davis’ speed has shined in noncontact drills. A padded practice is more physical, rugged. Davis will have to fight for his release from the line of scrimmage. He’ll be bumped when he breaks a route. It’s a stark difference to running loose and free in a defense’s secondary.
“It's almost like another first day,” Davis said.
Davis could be an ideal practice squad candidate, at least early in the season. The Packers are loaded with developmental talent at receiver. Seven wideouts could survive final cuts at the end of preseason, something that has never happened under general manager Ted Thompson. Perhaps there will be an odd man out.
If Davis continues to make plays in practice at the rate he did in the first two days, it’s hard to see him not making the 53-man roster. His pure speed is something the Packers offense could use. His route running has some polish. At one point during Wednesday’s practice, a defensive assistant praised Davis’ route as he separated from a cornerback on a shallow slant.
Of course, there’s a reason Davis was drafted in the fifth round. The finer details of his position need sharpened.
For proof, just look at that spectacular, one-handed catch.
“There were actually some details on that play I needed to fix up,” Davis said, admitting he needed to finish the play by running upfield instead of stepping out of bounds. “Some things might look great, but at the end of the day, you realize. You watch the film and go back and go, ‘Oh, I need to fix that, fix that.’ So like I said, details.”
Davis has been among the small handful of players taking punt return reps early in camp. It could be one avenue to early playing time, despite a crowded depth chart. Eventually, the Packers would like to see his role grow.
The team needs a No. 3 receiver who lines up across the field from Jordy Nelson, primarily on the perimeter. There are no shortage of candidates. Davante Adams, Jeff Janis, Ty Montgomery and Jared Abbrederis could all get their shot.
Still, the job is wide open.
At some point, Davis might profile as an ideal candidate for the position. He played 90 percent of his snaps on the perimeter at Cal, Davis said. He has gotten reps outside and in the slot with the Packers, but he has enough height and speed for the perimeter.
He just needs consistency, especially when he starts wearing pads Thursday.
“You see the big plays,” McCarthy said, “but it’s the details, the fundamentals, the little things, the discipline. So you just want to see him build off of that because he has shown that he can make big plays, but you want him to do the details that require the offensive player to be a first-, second- and third-down player. He’s off to a good start.”
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