GREEN BAY – Trevor Davis spent countless hours catching punts in California this offseason, preparing for the very opportunity he was presented with on Thursday night.
This time, the Packers’ second-year receiver needed only one to put all the skills he developed this summer to work, fashioning a 68-yard punt return for a touchdown in the second quarter of Green Bay’s eventual 24-9 win over the Philadelphia Eagles in front of 74,330 at Lambeau Field.
At first glance, Davis appeared to have an Eagles gunner bearing down on him off the right side. However, he knew the Packers’ double-team on the left had equalized the other threat.
As the wall developed, Davis stepped to his right to dodge the first defender and took it upfield for the score – and his first Lambeau Leap.
“I’ve been waiting on it for a long time,” said Davis, whose touchdown got the scoring started for Green Bay. “It’s really a testament to (special teams coordinator Ron) Zook and the return team we had. They’ve been doing a great job on it and we’ve been working on it a lot because we knew we had a chance at a big (play) and they executed it perfectly.”
Davis also added a 26-yard return in the third quarter, finishing the night with two attempts for 94 yards.
Returning isn’t a new concept to Davis. He actually brought back nine punts for 115 yards as a rookie last season, including a 55-yard effort against Atlanta. There also were two fumbles, which led to the Packers using Randall Cobb and Micah Hyde in that role down the stretch.
With Hyde now in Buffalo and Cobb still entrenched in the offense, Davis looked at this summer as an opportunity to renew his application for the job.
The 6-foot, 190-pound receiver placed a heavy emphasis on improving his hands and technique this summer, working out at San Jose State with one of the school’s former punters. So far, he’s noticed a difference in camp.
The progress showed in the Packers’ first preseason game.
“He made a good little jab step and got up out of there,” said cornerback Josh Hawkins, one of the jammers on the touchdown return. “It gave us momentum. He saw a seam and he took it. He hit it hard. It was good for him and everybody on the return team just blocked.”
Davis and Cobb have handled a majority of the reps on punt returns since camp began, though it was Davis and first-year receiver Max McCaffrey who handled the duties against the Eagles.
Afterward, Cobb congratulated Davis on the return and also for not letting Philadelphia punter Donnie Jones catch up to him at the end. Considered one of the fastest players on the team, Davis put on the jets to pass the punter and get into the end zone.
Davis doesn’t believe any jobs were won or lost in the preseason opener, but he admits the performance was a step in the right direction for both him and the Packers’ special-teams units.
“It was great to build consistency and trying to go out there and give our offense field position at all given times,” Davis said. “Special teams is the biggest field-position plays in the games so as long as you’re able to utilize that and get our offense at the 40 and closer every single possession, Aaron Rodgers is going to put it in the end zone. That’s really a big play for us.”
On the offensive side of special teams, the Packers’ field-goal operation settled back in after a rough practice last Saturday.
Working with rookie holder Justin Vogel and long-snapper Derek Hart, kicker Mason Crosby made a 39-yard field goal in the second quarter and all three of his extra points to get back on track after making only 5-of-11 attempts on Family Night.
“I tried to slow myself down and looked to what I could control and make sure I’m sound with everything I’m doing every time I go to the ball,” Crosby said.
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