Aaron Nagler and Michael Cohen look at the defensive back rotation and look forward to the pads coming on in Packers training camp. (July 28, 2017) USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin
GREEN BAY - Green Bay Packers wide receivers Trevor Davis and Geronimo Allison both caught their first career touchdown passes in the same game last year at the Georgia Dome.
For Davis, a 55-yard punt return on top of his scoring play made it look like his career was about to take off. He had just been installed as the No. 1 returner on both punts and kickoffs and was going to see a big boost in special teams work.
But two weeks later against Tennessee, Davis muffed a punt — his second of the year — and dropped a pass, and was benched. He did not appear in five of the final 10 games and played just 45 snaps the rest of the season.
Allison, meanwhile, caught a wave late in the year and finished with 17 catches for 267 yards and two touchdowns, including playoffs. He comes into this season as the No. 4 receiver and will be hard to unseat if he has the same kind of training camp he had last year.
Coming into 2017, Davis is trying to re-establish himself as the team’s top returner and give the offense a speed-burning receiver it's never had in the Ted Thompson-Mike McCarthy era.
But if he’s going to be a starter this year, it will be on special teams.
“Any opportunity I can get to get on the field, I’m definitely going to take,” Davis said Friday. “And I said it before, I’ll say it again, I love doing returns as well as being on every special team, being a gunner, being on kickoff, everything.
“Special teams as a whole, I would love to have any opportunity I could possibly take.”
McCarthy is giving Davis a re-do after benching him in ’16. Davis, who caught three passes for 24 yards last season, measured 6-1, 188 pounds at the scouting combine prior to being drafted in the fifth round last year and his lack of strength made him easy for cornerbacks to hold up at the line of scrimmage.
Davis wouldn’t say how much weight he put on, but his upper body looks bigger and his speed is still evident.
“He’s done a great job in the weight room,” McCarthy said. “I would say just Day 1 there, Geronimo and him have really taken that step physically that you look for in Year 2.”
Davis apparently has done enough to make the coaches forget his transgressions from a year ago and has a chance to establish a firm place on the 53-man roster if he can put his speed to use on returns.
It means being reliable both in performance and durability.
“You just have to put things behind you,” Davis said of his mistakes. “You’ve got to learn from it, and I definitely learned from that. A lot of technique and things like that, and not being lackadaisical on certain catches and what-not, that every rep matters — especially in the games.”
Davis, who ran the 40-yard dash in 4.42 seconds at the combine, returned punts and kicks both years he was at the University of California. He averaged 24.6 yards on kickoff returns and 8.2 on punt returns.
He is best known for returning consecutive kickoffs for touchdowns in a 60-59 victory at Washington State in 2014.
Everything is different in the pros and Davis will have to produce in all areas if he’s going to make the team because Thompson added receiver DeAngelo Yancey and Malachi Dupre in the draft, making an already crowded position even tighter.
Wowing the coaches with his returns would secure him a spot on the 53, but to be safe he'd better compete with Allison and the others for snaps at receiver.
He did just that Friday.
After Allison caught a long pass down the middle in a 2-minute drill, Davis finished the drive with a 5-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Brett Hundley on a back shoulder route that he might not have had the strength to make a year ago.
“It feels great,” Davis said. “You want to go out there and score every single play that you possibly can. It’s definitely competition out here. It’s all great, but at the same time you’re trying to go out there and trying to score all the time.”
And that’s what the Packers will be looking for when Davis gets the ball in his hands.