Replay of Aaron Nagler Facebook Live chat at Green Bay Packers training camp on Aug. 2, 2017.
GREEN BAY - On July 29, the third day of Green Bay Packers training camp, fans in attendance would have been forgiven for connecting the dots between a muffed punt by Trevor Davis on Ray Nitschke Field and his muffed punt at Nissan Stadium in Nashville last season.
Given the circumstances, it looked like a continuation of the suspect hands Davis showed during his rookie year.
But Davis’ drop of a 60-yard punt by Justin Vogel (hang time 4.69 seconds) over the weekend did nothing to erode the faith of special teams coordinator Ron Zook. Not after Davis spent the summer shooting videos of himself fielding punts and sending them to Zook for approval.
“Trevor sent me tapes during the summer, or during the break here of him catching punts, which really impressed me,” Zook said Wednesday. “He worked on it and he’s the first guy in the National Football League that’s ever sent me video of him catching the ball. So he’s worked on it, he knows it’s important and he’s come a long, long, long way. I feel very, very confident with him catching punts, catching anything really.
“And I don’t know where anybody lost the confidence in Trevor. I mean, I think if you go back to the Tennessee game, but that wasn’t his fault. It should have been a penalty. That’s one of those things where when a guy fair catches the punt and if he does bobble, he’s still protected. And then he got hit in the head, so, and you come to find out later that hey, it was a bad call. Those kinds of things happen, so I think everybody kind of hangs on that play. But I have no concerns with Trevor whatsoever.”
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The forcefulness of Zook’s statement lends a sense of earnestness to the competition between Davis and wide receiver Randall Cobb, the only other legitimate candidate to return punts. Cobb returned four punts in each of the last two seasons but played the role extensively in 2011-12, his first two years in the league. He averaged 10.3 yards per return during that season and brought two punts back for touchdowns.
Since then, Cobb had been used mostly on spot duty in supplement of defensive back Micah Hyde. His value on offense — combined with Hyde’s success as a returner — lessened the need to risk his health with additional snaps on special teams. (Cobb suffered an ankle injury returning a punt in 2012.)
It means that the battle between Cobb and Davis is about more than just returning punts. Coach Mike McCarthy and his staff will need to weight the potential injury concerns against the results of a head-to-head competition.
“First of all,” Zook said, “let me just say this: I’m not going to make that decision. The head ball coach is going to make that decision. But, with that being said, I have no issues with whoever’s back there. There’s no doubt in my mind. I think if you go back and look at every punt return that Trevor had last year, he had a couple long ones called back. … The guy’s got some talent. He’s a special dude and he wants to do it also.
“But I think you’ve got a guy like Randall who's done it in this league, taken it the distance and wants to do it, that’s probably as big a key as anything. Wants to do it and I have complete confidence in him.”
Off-field issues: General manager Ted Thompson briefly addressed the latest off-field issue for nose tackle Letroy Guion.
Guion was arrested June 21 in Hawaii for driving while intoxicated. His blood alcohol level was .086, according to arrest records obtained by the Associated Press. Guion smelled of alcohol and marijuana at the time of his arrest. He also stumbled when he walked and spoke with slurred speech.
This was Guion’s second arrest as a member of the Packers. He has also been suspended twice, including the first four games of the 2017 season.
Asked why he hasn’t cut Guion, Thompson said: “Well, Letroy’s done some — made some mistakes. But we’re just not there yet.”
Safeties coach Darren Perry spoke to the media for the first time since his drunken driving conviction earlier this summer. Perry was asked if any punishment from the league will be forthcoming.
“To my knowledge — I know right now I’ve done everything that has been required and if they decide to do something then that will, we’ll just have to wait and see,” Perry said. “But in terms of what’s been asked of me to do, everything that has been required has been fulfilled.”