Green Bay Packers rookie receiver Trevor Davis has gotten off to a strong start, which perhaps only heightened quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ disappointment.
Early in an 11-on-11 drill on Monday, Davis ran an out but was unable to haul in Rodgers’ pass. With hands on hips, Rodgers shook his head — body language that spoke a thousand words. Rodgers often says he can tolerate physical mistakes, so, more likely than not, Davis didn’t run his route as precisely as Rodgers expected.
Monday’s practice was the first day of the third week of organized team activities, so Davis probably could be forgiven for a missed assignment. Still, Rodgers’ expectations are high — as he let Davis know via body language that reverberated through the Don Hutson Center.
“You’ve got to test it out a little bit. You’ve got to see how they respond to the way you talk to them and you lead them and you get on them,” Rodgers said after that practice. “Like I would tell him, I’m only going to get on somebody that I care about and I think could be a player. I’m not going to waste my time unless I believe in a guy. And I believe in those young guys. I want them to come along.”
Davis was the one luxury pick in the Packers’ needs-based draft. With the return of Jordy Nelson and Ty Montgomery from injuries, the Packers appear loaded at receiver. However, Davis has the speed — 4.42 in the 40 at the Scouting Combine — to prevent defenses from choking the line of scrimmage again and the playmaking ability to become an impact player.
However, trust is everything for a quarterback. A blown assignment by a receiver in a game can turn into a touchdown for the defense. Without that quarterback-receiver trust, opportunities on offense will be fleeting or nonexistent.
“You want to do everything perfectly for him. He wants everything done perfectly — he’s a perfectionist — and you want to be the exact same way,” Davis said after practice. “So, having him come to you is actually a good thing, even though you made a mistake, because you know he wants you to do it right.”
For Rodgers, time is of the essence in building that trust. When he entered the NFL, there was nothing but time, with two-a-day practices highlighting a grueling training camp. Those trials by fire helped get rookies up to speed and build vital chemistry. Now, there’s only one practice per day, and many of those aren’t in pads. If a player can’t demonstrate he’s ready early in the process, he’ll get left by the wayside because, once the regular season begins, it’s all about getting ready for that week’s opponent.
“I was talking with a friend yesterday about the difference,” Rodgers said. “There’s a natural progression from no pads to pads to preseason playing with the No. 2s and 3s to actually playing in a game. so you have a long way to go as a young player. You have to be comfortable in these settings, you have to be comfortable in a training-camp setting, you have to be productive and comfortable in the preseason [while] playing with a lot of backup players, and then there’s another jump. So we’ve got to get these guys up to speed quickly. It’s a different with the CBA the way it is. It’s a different offseason atmosphere. There’s not as much time to work with those guys. There’s kind of an increase in the urgency level and we’ve got to get those guys up and going quickly. The way that we do things around here, we draft and develop — we don’t bring in hardly any free agents — so we’ve got to get these guys up to speed and playing well quickly.”
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.