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Packers 90-man roster ranking, 65-61: Can punt returns keep Trevor Davis on the roster again?

The fourth-year pro’s return ability is not in question, but the Packers may be able to find production elsewhere.

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Kansas City Chiefs Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

It’s time for another installment of Acme Packing Company’s 90-man roster breakdown, as we continue breaking down the team’s 2019 offseason roster. This edition of the countdown features players ranked from 65th to 61st by APC’s contributors, and it’s a group that consists of people on the roster bubble who should be fighting hard for roster spots in training camp.

Still, it’s not hard to envision a role on the 53 for any of the five players in this group. The questions become whether their game is developing or if they can be impressive enough in those niche roles to outweigh a lack of contributions in other areas. That last question is very much the case with the player ranked 61st — can the team afford to keep a productive punt returner, given his injury history and disappearance on offense?

65: Gerhard de Beer, offensive tackle

A hyper-athletic offensive tackle, de Beer moved from South Africa to the USA to play football for the University of Arizona. A former discus thrower and rugby player, he eventually worked his way up to being the Wildcats’ starting right tackle and, after visiting with the Packers before the 2018 NFL Draft, he signed with the Buffalo Bills as an undrafted free agent.

However, the Bills let him walk off their practice squad early on in the season, and the Packers scooped him up in November for their practice squad. Now, with a full offseason in Green Bay to work on his technique, he has a chance to put his incredible athletic ability to use and compete for a job backing up David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga.

64: Tra Carson, running back

In college, Carson spent one year at the University of Oregon before transferring to Texas A&M, seemingly in an effort to get close to his hometown. Once back in Texas, Carson was a productive rotational back for two years before taking over as the starter as a senior in 2015. That year, he ran for over 1,150 yards and scored eight total touchdowns, but he went undrafted and signed with the Bengals after the draft.

A solidly-built back (5-foot-11, 228 pounds), Carson spent one season on the Bengals’ practice squad and one on the active roster (without suiting up for a game) before he was released on an injury settlement last September. The Packers grabbed him for the practice squad in October, then promoted him to the 53 at midseason; he made four appearances in green and gold a year ago, pitching in exclusively on special teams.

63: Curtis Bolton, inside linebacker

One of the top players in the Packers’ 2019 undrafted free agent class (and on our annual UDFA prospectus), Bolton had a massively productive campaign in 2018 at Oklahoma. Despite last year being his first and only season as a starter, Bolton put up numbers that would be solid for two years for other off-ball linebackers, raking up 142 total tackles, 12 TFLs, 4.5 sacks, and a pair of fumble recoveries.

A smaller linebacker at 6-foot and 228 pounds, Bolton’s skill set and speed (4.59 Pro Day forty) makes him look like an ideal weak-side linebacker and special teams contributor. With his nose for the football, blitzing ability, and coverage skills, Bolton should have a great opportunity to make the team and earn a backup role on the Packers’ thin inside linebacker group.

62: James Looney, defensive lineman

In 2018, the Packers selected Looney in the seventh round of the NFL Draft, taking a flier on another great athlete despite his slightly undersized frame. At 6-foot-3 and 287 pounds, Looney is one of the lighter defensive linemen on the Packers’ roster, a factor that seemed to be a challenge for him in his rookie training camp last summer.

Looney ended up being one of the Packers’ final cuts, though the team was able to get him back on the practice squad immediately. They then promoted him to the active roster late in the season, and he earned 19 snaps on defense over three games. With fifth-round lineman Kingsley Keke on board and an undrafted player (Tyler Lancaster) earning significant snaps ahead of him a year ago, Looney will have an uphill climb to make the team in 2019. However, adding bulk and strength this offseason to his athletic frame should give him a chance to impress in camp.

61: Trevor Davis, wide receiver/return specialist

Entering his fourth year in the NFL, the former fourth-round pick has yet to make any notable contributions on offense, and he spent almost all of his 2018 campaign on injured reserve. He joined fellow receiver Jake Kumerow on IR to start the season, and both players were designated for return around midseason. However, Davis ended up suiting up in just two games before being injured again and going to IR to finish out the campaign.

Davis’ punt return ability is indeed impressive (12.1-yard average over his NFL career), and it likely gives him a chance to make the team once again. But if the Packers can find productivity on returns elsewhere on the 90-man roster, his chances of making the 53 will dwindle to near-zero.