ALAMEDA -- Trevor Davis hasn’t been a Raider long. The fourth-year veteran was traded from Green Bay during Week 3, immediately getting a crash course in Raiders football.
It wasn’t realistic for him to play Minnesota just days after the trade, but he integrated quickly and has played both games since. Honestly, he had no choice. Ryan Grant got cut and J.J. Nelson couldn’t get right enough to play in Week 4 or 5, making the Raiders reliant on the lightning-quick Cal alum right away.
He introduced himself to Raider Nation with a 60-yard touchdown run against Indianapolis, and then caught four passes for 42 yards on as many targets against Chicago in London. He made a major mistake in that one, getting the ball punched out at the goal line in the second half of a tight Bears game.
It was at that moment, oddly enough, his lowest as a Raider, that he truly felt accepted on his new team.
“It’s a tight-knit group. It was clear when I got here, especially when I made a bad play in the Chicago game,” Davis said Friday. “They all rallied around me even though some of the guys barely even know who I am. They backed me up, and that was big for me and my confidence here.”
The Raiders picked him up that day, knowing full well that they’d need him to produce all season long. That’s especially true heading into Sunday’s game against his old team.
Tyrell Williams has been ruled out against the Packers with plantar fasciitis. Nelson’s on the street, leaving Davis as the receiver corps’ primary target. As crazy as it sounds, Hunter Renfrow’s the only receiver to have played every game this season.
Davis is finally comfortable working with quarterback Derek Carr and within Jon Gruden’s offensive system heading into this important showdown at Lambeau Field.
“I have most of the offense down at this point, which is a good place to be after coming to a team during the season,” Davis said. “Your head can spin coming in from a different offense. There are similar concepts with completely different names. You have to have trigger something in your mind to the concept is associated with something different. The transition is hard, but you have to have to delete everything you knew and focus on what you’re learning now.”
Davis certainly empathizes with Jones, who is in the in-season integration process’ early stages. Jones was added in a trade from Buffalo nearly two weeks ago now and admits his head is spinning a bit trying to get everything down. He spent the bye week in the classroom with Gruden and extra time with receivers and offensive coordinator Greg Olson after each practice.
“He’s a very quick study, quick learner,” Olson said. “We had him in last week early in the week. Very intelligent football player and that jumped out at us right away and then we got a chance to see him on the practice field here early in the week running full speed. He’s got tremendous speed and quickness. It’s early right now, but we like what we see.”
Jones obviously doesn’t know the entire offense, and it seems unlikely he even all the plays in Sunday’s game plan down. There will be ways for him to contribute right away and to get the talented young receiver involved quickly.
The Raiders will need Davis and Jones to step up and help diversify a passing game that’s more focused on tight ends and running backs in recent weeks.
“Can’t say enough about the job Trevor [Davis] has done, as our returner, as our flanker,” Gruden said. “And to get Zay for what we feel like we gave up is a risk worth taking and we’ll see if it pays any dividends, but he’s a good young player. He’s got some size and speed and was a very, very productive receiver, so we’re happy to have him.”
Davis was in Green Bay for three-plus seasons and tried to help the defense out with some Packers' offensive tendencies. Grant is a Packer now and is certainly doing the same thing with his Raiders experience.
Davis knows a return trip to Green Bay will be meaningful, but he’s trying to tone down the emotions and treat this like any other game. While getting traded away from the team that employed him so long is difficult, he appreciates learning from some excellent veterans while there that gave him a step up heading into this new venture.
“I learned a lot there,” Davis said. “Playing with Aaron and with Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson, those guys taught me a lot about the game. I’ve learned a lot that I’m able to apply here with the Raiders. It was nice to come in and feel like I knew nuances of the position joining this offense, and that came thanks to the veterans I have played with.”