GREEN BAY — Trevor Davis seemed like such a good fit for Matt LaFleur’s offense, and after making the Green Bay Packers’ roster after a late preseason push, Davis opened the season in his role as the team’s primary return man and seeing action as the No. 4 receiver.
That’s why it came as something of a surprise on Wednesday when the Packers dealt the fourth-year receiver/returner to the Oakland Raiders. The deal didn’t go through in time for it to be included on Wednesday evening’s official NFL transaction wire, but a league source confirmed the trade. The Bay Area News Group reported the Raiders gave up a sixth-rounder for Davis, who entered the league as a fifth-round pick from California in 2016 and was in the final year of his rookie contract.
Through two games, Davis had one reception for 28 yards — a crucial catch during the season-opening victory at Chicago. He had three punt returns for just 1 net yard while fair catching the other seven punts he handled. He had not handled a kickoff, as all of the Bears’ and Minnesota Vikings’ kickoffs were touchbacks.
Davis played 21 total offensive snaps, fourth among receivers behind Davante Adams (130), Marquez Valdes-Scantling (106) and Geronimo Allison (64). The next receiver in terms of snaps is former UW-Whitewater standout Jake Kumerow (seven). Undrafted rookie free agent Darrius Shepherd, who handled return duties in preseason when Davis wasn’t doing them, missed the first two games with a hamstring injury but could be ready to return.
With Davis headed to the Raiders, the Packers can either hand the return duties over to Shepherd or to newly added cornerback Tremon Smith, whom the team claimed off waivers from the Kansas City Chiefs earlier in the week. As a rookie sixth-round pick from Central Arkansas last season, Smith averaged 26.8 yards per kickoff return, ranking him sixth in the NFL among returners with at least 10 returns.
Smith did not return punts for the Chiefs, though he did return punts in college. If LaFleur doesn’t tap Shepherd, who averaged 9.2 yards per punt return in preseason, to handle the job in Sunday’s game against the Denver Broncos at Lambeau Field, he could use veteran cornerback Tramon Williams.
Smith, who ran a 4.32-second 40-yard dash coming out of college, worked at running back and wide receiver during training camp with the Chiefs before moving back to cornerback. He played 16 special teams snaps for the Chiefs this season before his release.
“I feel like I can play any position,” Smith said Wednesday. “Of course, not offensive line or defensive line. I’d have to eat a lot.”
A ‘mental’ day
With a “Thursday Night Football” matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles set for next week, LaFleur did not have the team practice Wednesday, opting for what he called a “mental day,” which consisted of a walk-through and mostly film viewing and meetings.
He also has a lighter-than-usual Thursday practice scheduled in hopes of getting the requisite work done in preparation for the Broncos while also saving his players from too much wear-and-tear with the quick turnaround next week.
“You look at what we have coming in front of us with the game. Obviously, this Sunday, then a short turnaround on a Thursday game,” LaFleur said. “We’re a little banged up right now. So I wanted to give our guys the opportunity to try to get their bodies back a little bit.
“You have to go in with guys healthy and fresh.”
Eagles coach Doug Pederson took a similar approach with his team Wednesday as the Eagles (1-1) host the Detroit Lions (1-0-1) on Sunday.
“I think Coach is very in-tune with the locker room and the way the guys are feeling,” right tackle Bryan Bulaga said. “We’re not looking ahead to Thursday night — that’s not what’s happening — but he’s planning for the impact on the guys’ bodies and what we’re going to be going through with three games in 11 (days). It’s a lot of football. It takes a toll on guys. He’s planning ahead and I know the locker room appreciates that.”
From the infirmary
The Packers listed 16 players on their injury report and estimated three would not have taken part in practice had the team in fact practiced: Kumerow (shoulder), tight end Jimmy Graham (groin) and defensive tackle Montravius Adams (shoulder).
Meanwhile, outside linebacker Kyler Fackrell (shoulder), inside linebacker Blake Martinez (shoulder), safety Darnell Savage (shin) and Shepherd (hamstring) would have been limited.
Interestingly, inside linebacker Oren Burks, who partially tore his left pectoral muscle in his chest during the Aug. 8 preseason opener and has not played since, was listed as a limited participant.
The Packers could use some help there with hybrid safety/linebacker Raven Greene having landed on injured reserve with an ankle injury sustained against the Vikings. B.J. Goodson is a run-stuffing traditional inside linebacker, but Burks, a former college safety, is better suited for that hybrid role.
Defensive tackle Kenny Clark was on the injury report with a calf injury but would have been a full participant.