GREEN BAY – Not by a lot, but Packers receiver Trevor Davis is visibly bigger in his second NFL season.
He put that little bit of added size to good use Friday.
On a goal-line play to close out a two-minute drill, Davis hauled in a quick back-shoulder throw from quarterback Brett Hundley, using his torso to shield cornerback LaDarius Gunter from being able to reach the ball.
The 3-yard TD pass had Hundley all fired up, and it was a testament to the growth Davis is showing as a young receiver in Green Bay’s offense.
“That’s a big-time play for a receiver to make, and he made it look easy,” Hundley said. “He’s doing an awesome job.”
Davis has added somewhere around 10 pounds to his 188-pound frame, so the speedy and slender fifth-round pick from Cal in 2016 won’t be mistaken for a big receiver anytime soon.
But Head Coach Mike McCarthy noted the “matured” body Davis is bringing into his second season, as well as a better understanding of the playbook.
Davis came from a completely different college offense at Cal, so learning the Packers’ system was like speaking an entirely new language as a rookie. With the first year now under his belt, Davis’ physical tools are able to shine through a little brighter.
“It feels much different,” Davis said. “When I have a route, I can focus on why I’m running it, and certain details to run within the route. It’s like I’m running faster because I’m not thinking as much, because I know exactly what’s going on.”
Davis’ rookie season had a major high and a rough low.
In late October at Atlanta, with the Packers banged up at wide receiver, Davis got thrown into action and responded. He recorded his first three NFL receptions, including a 9-yard touchdown, which was set up by his own 55-yard punt return.
Two weeks later, though, Davis muffed a punt at Tennessee and was barely heard from again the rest of the year. Over the final five regular-season games and three playoff contests, Davis was a game-day inactive four times, and he didn’t play at all in another game.
It was a tough deal after showing so much promise in Atlanta, but Davis insists he didn’t let the muffed punt linger in his psyche.
“You just have to put things behind you,” he said. “You have to learn from it, and I definitely learned from that, a lot of technique, and not being lackadaisical on certain catches. Every rep matters, especially in the games.”
He also said he learned to stay ready at all times, and that even applies to training camp, where the competition at wide receiver is pretty intense.
Fellow second-year pro Geronimo Allison had an impressive catch-and-run to set up Davis’ TD in the two-minute drill, and rookie draft picks Malachi Dupre and DeAngelo Yancey have each made catches in camp’s first two practices as well.
Where Davis might separate himself is on special teams. McCarthy sees Davis as “ready to take a big step” as a return man, and he’s played some punt gunner as well.
Davis returned kickoffs more than punts in college, but he’s done both jobs. He made a name for himself in 2014 with two kickoff returns for touchdowns in the same game for Cal, covering 100 and 98 yards, so he’ll compete for any duty he can get, even as he continues to build his body.
“We’re receivers. We like having the ball in our hand,” he said. “I’ve always caught punts, and I’m pretty good at judging punts because I’ve done it so long. It’s a fun position. When you get to catch the ball and you have a lot of room in front of you, that’s a great feeling.”
So is finishing off a two-minute drill with a TD catch, and having his quarterback holler with approval as he delivered an enthusiastic high-five.
Davis and Hundley were clearly on the same page with the play, which is executed by read and feel after the snap.
“He could have thrown it over the top or back-shoulder, but I kind of know Brett, from working with him so long, and I anticipated somewhat the back-shoulder,” Davis said. “You of course have to play both.”
Davis appears to be developing the physique and the game that allows both to be legitimate options, which might not have been the case a year ago.
“The way he uses his body now,” Hundley said, “he’s always been good at making those awkward catches, but when you put it together now with body control as a receiver, I mean, unbelievable.”
WR Cobb focused on health