Before Tyler Davis even took the field this summer, there was already a lot of hype surrounding the Green Bay Packers tight end.
Following the draft, GM Brian Gutekunst would mention that the team felt that they “really have something” in Davis. Matt LaFleur would tell reporters that Davis impressed when on the field last year. Meanwhile, as Rich Bisaccia familiarized himself with the special teams unit, Davis was one of the standout players.
Unfortunately, now several weeks into training camp and the preseason, things have not gone well for Davis. In fact, as perhaps a one-time roster lock, he may end up being cut if things don’t change quickly.
Throughout the first portion of training camp practices, we didn’t hear much about Davis, whether that be good or bad, but things have really taken a downturn over the last week.
It began in San Francisco, where a pass in the red zone from Jordan Love deflected off Davis’ hands and turned into an interception. He would also miss a few blocks as well.
This week during joint practices, Davis was called for pre-snap penalties and had another drop. In the actual game, a holding penalty negated a 17-yard completion, and Davis would then fumble following a completion.
As the fourth tight end behind Robert Tonyan, Josiah Deguara, and Marcedes Lewis, the bulk of Davis’ playing time was likely going to come on special teams rather than offense, but even so, one would think that he still has to be much better offensively than what he has been.
The Green Bay Packers find themselves in an interesting position at tight end.
If Tonyan isn’t ready to play Week 1 against Minnesota, then it’s difficult to envision the team cutting Davis with how the roster is currently constructed. Davis also provides a greater pass-catching presence than Deguara or Lewis, an element this offense will need without Tonyan.
On the other hand, if Tonyan is healthy, the Packers may have more flexibility. Would they choose to roster Alize Mack over Davis as the fourth tight end?
Mack is a move tight end who can affect the passing game, but this preseason, we’ve seen him hold his own as a blocker. He has also taken special teams snaps on the kick coverage and punt return units, according to PFF ($$).
Or perhaps if the Packers don’t believe that either Davis or Mack is ready, would they roster just three tight ends and use the weekly practice squad elevation to provide depth on game day?
Three tight ends may seem not seem like enough, but as Gutekunst has said recently, the ability to elevate players from the practice squad could allow for more freedom when building the roster instead of having to stick to the traditional roster numbers at each position.
With that said, as I already mentioned, with special teams play being such an important part of the fourth tight end’s role, is Davis’ play in that third phase enough to keep him around, despite the struggles on offense?
The other tight ends on the roster, in addition to Mack and Davis, include Sal Cannella and Nate Becker. Dominique Dafney was waived last week.
Tight end was a position that seemed relatively stable entering training camp, but as you can see, we have several questions at this time. Hopefully, things turn around for Davis, but he is running out of time.