GREEN BAY – Trevor Davis is proving he’s no one-trick pony.
The Packers’ speedy second-year receiver has some moves and toughness, too.
He displayed both on a nifty 27-yard punt return last week at Denver, making multiple players miss in the open field en route to getting the offense out near the 40-yard line to start its second possession.
Everyone already knew about his speed. He showed that off on a 68-yard punt return for a score in the preseason opener against the Eagles.
The return in Denver was different, and it depicted – along with some productive plays on offense – how much more the former fifth-round pick from Cal is bringing to the table in a strong bid for a roster spot in 2017.
“I got to break the seam, the first line of defense,” Davis said of his second impressive return of the preseason. “That’s the main thing you try to do as a punt returner, because normally, everybody fans out and tries to cage you.
“I just think of it as trying to go out there and make the team any possible way I can, help the team any possible way I can. Of course, it’s always good to be versatile out there.”
Just as important, if not more so, is the mental fortitude Davis has displayed as well.
Last year, he never really got a chance to atone for his big mistake, when he muffed a punt at Tennessee in Week 10 of his rookie season.
This year, a muff at Washington in the second preseason game hasn’t derailed his game. Given the opportunity to stay in against the Redskins, he fielded two more punts cleanly after the fumble.
“He’s mentally tough, he works at it, and I’m not surprised that he bounced back,” special teams coordinator Ron Zook said. “Coach (McCarthy) said after it happened, ‘Hey, keep him in there,’ which I thought was good for him.”
Then came the positive return in Denver, rewarding the faith the coaching staff has in his ability.
“Definitely,” Davis said. “It’s on them to put me back out there. They did, and it’s on me to not have the mistake again. It’s them trying to see how I handle adversity.”
In a crowded receiving corps, Davis had a presence on offense at Denver, too.
Offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett pointed out two plays in particular that stood out on film. On the first, Davis took Brett Hundley’s quick sideways dart at the line of scrimmage – a check out of a run play – and picked up nine yards on first down.
“He caught the ball, no wasted movement, split two defenders, and got the ball north and south immediately,” Bennett said. “Those are the type of plays we look for.”
Later, on third-and-2, Davis took an end-around handoff and made something out of nothing. The Packers ran the play twice last season with Jeff Janis for big gains, but this time Head Coach Mike McCarthy admitted it wasn’t the best call against the defense the Broncos were showing.
But it was called anyway, specifically to get the ball into Davis’ hands. He delivered, finding just enough room to gain three yards and move the chains.
“From a blocking standpoint, there were two free hats on that particular play, yet he put his pads down, played with great leverage, had two hands on the football and was able to get the first down,” Bennett said. “Plays like that kind of stand out. We always talk about playing with that attitude.”
He finished with three catches for 39 yards, plus the 3-yard rush and 27-yard return, a performance McCarthy labeled Davis’ best of the preseason. His quarterback has taken notice, too.
“Trevor has had a fantastic camp for us,” Aaron Rodgers said. “A guy who runs an incredible time on the clock, didn’t play maybe as fast last year. This year he’s playing fast because he’s thinking less, he’s confident.
“He’s become a legitimate receiver, so I’m really happy about the strides he’s made, and it’s a prime example of a guy who’s a little more focused this year and the mental part is coming a lot easier than it did last year, which is natural.”
All the progress would seem to be enough to earn a roster spot, but Davis considers nothing a given with one preseason game left. As for where he stands, Davis said he has “no sense of it.”
That’s more a reflection of his focus and sense of purpose than nerves, though. He didn’t let the miscue in Washington shake him, and he hasn’t let the intense competition at his position rattle him, either.
“I don’t really get nervous much anymore,” Davis said. “All you can do is try your best and know whatever is meant to happen is going to happen. All the hard work you put in is going to pay off.”