Before his team’s second practice of training camp, Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy spoke to the media on Friday morning. McCarthy fielded several questions about his team’s receiving corps, with an early focus on a pair of second-year players.
Trevor Davis was the team’s fifth-round draft pick in 2016, and although he made the roster last season he had little significant impact on offense. Davis did provide a few brief sparks as a return man, showing a burst and a skill set that the Packers expect him to continue developing in year two.
McCarthy was asked about whether he saw any changes in Davis’ physical frame and confirmed that he had. “I think Trevor’s definitely matured,” he said, adding that “he’s done a great job in the weight room.” However, it’s not just a physical maturation that Davis has gone through: “He had a huge adjustment as far as the terminology and playing in our offense as opposed to college.”
Another player McCarthy mentioned was fellow second-year wideout Geronimo Allison. Last year, Allison started on the practice squad after signing with the Packers as an undrafted free agent, but he earned a promotion to the 53-man roster at midseason and has stuck ever since. “Geronimo’s an instinctive football player,” McCarthy said before listing some of the qualities that make him an exciting player: “his ability to separate, he has such a long wingspan and has a very good catching radius ... he feels coverage. He does a good job getting into and away from leverage.” However, all of those traits combined this offseason with good work in the weight room: “Geronimo and (Davis) have really taken that step physically.”
The other receiver who was a topic of discussion was the team’s longest-tenured wideout, Jordy Nelson. McCarthy was asked if Nelson would play more out of the slot in 2017, but noted that he has been taking plenty of snaps inside in recent years already: “It’s important to move people around ... the game’s playing to those matchups, who’s lining up in there with him.” McCarthy went on to note that Nelson’s game elevated a few years ago when he started playing inside more often: “Really with the injury to Randall (Cobb in 2013) when he got moved into the slot, he’s put up huge numbers.”
Going back to that 2013 season, Nelson has caught at least 85 passes for no less than 1,250 yards every year (excluding the 2015 season, of course, which he missed with a torn ACL). That backs up McCarthy’s comments; before 2013, Nelson had never caught more than 70 passes and had just one season over 1,000 yards. With the team developing other legitimate receiving weapons on the outside — Davante Adams, Allison, and Davis, for example — Nelson should be free to move around all over the formation as McCarthy and the coaching staff continue to look for the best matchups.
A final note from McCarthy’s press conference: cornerback Herb Waters will be held out of practice on Friday. He left Thursday’s practice with an injury, which McCarthy revealed to be a recurrence of the same shoulder issue he suffered in spring practices.