For Jets wide receiver Corey Davis, being a professional in the NFL is not only about trying to be the best, it's being willing to face the best defenders. And during the Green & White's two joint practices this week in Green Bay, WI, that meant Davis squaring off against Packers' cornerback Jaire Alexander.
"It was great going against them, some of the best in the league and he's definitely one of the best," Davis said after the final session leading up to Saturday's late afternoon preseason matchup at Lambeau Field. "I'm not running from the work. I love it. I accept the challenge. He's one of the best and I want to do that all the time."
Davis (6-3, 209), signed in free agency after four seasons with Tennessee, was early on stamped as the Jets' No. 1 wide receiver. The Jets have other quality players ready to snag passes from rookie QB Zach Wilson -- guys like Jamison Crowder, rookie Elijah Moore (nursing a quad injury), Keelan Cole, Braxton Berrios. Denzel Mims, and the Smiths, Jeff and Vyncint. Yet one of the themes of training camp has been the evolving connection between Wilson and Davis.
"We're definitely getting there [in terms of chemistry]," Davis said. "We've made a lot of huge strides the last week and a half, two weeks. I think Zach is a lot more comfortable in the pocket, he's been more accurate. I've been getting open and creating space to try and make it easier for him."
Davis held his own against Alexander, battling throughout. Alexander won some and Davis won some. On Wednesday, Davis was able to get the better of the competition when he caught first-down passes on back-to-back plays, something that simply does not happen that often.
On Thursday, Davis caught a TD pass from Wilson in the red zone and later said that the Jets' offense "started to pick it up a little bit, even more so from yesterday.
"We were setting a tone, but still have some work to do," he said.
During his time with the Titans, Davis played in the West Coast offense for three seasons, putting up the best numbers of his NFL career. Over that period he averaged 58 receptions for 825 yards and 4 touchdowns. While sharing pass-catching duties with A.J. Brown in 2019-20, Davis grabbed 43 balls and then 65 last season, falling 16 yards short of his first 1,000-yard receiving season.
Asked about the tantalizing matchup between Davis and Alexander, Jets head coach Robert Saleh said: "Again, our receivers will be able to go against, I've said it before, this is a championship roster. We're going to have challenges up and down, but it still comes back to them having to deal with us, too, and Corey's been a very good football player in this league, he's every bit of deserving what he got this offseason, during free agency, and for him to go out there and get a chance to compete with their corners and their system is going to be a great thing to watch."
Speaking with reporters after practice on Thursday, Davis was asked for his assessment of second-year WR Denzel Mims, who rallied with a strong performance in last week's preseason win over the Giants.
"Mims is really talented," Davis said. "It's just really up to him coming out and doing the work every single day. The grind gets hard, it's tough even for me. In order to get better you have to do things you don't want to do. For him, it's that mental block because he has all the physical attributes. He has to push past the mental things, that's where I think his battle is."
Davis has fought those battles, won some, lost some. Facing Alexander is a prelude to the competition he will face in the AFC East against the likes of the Patriots' Stephon Gilmore and J.C Jackson, the Bills' Tre White and the Dolphins' Xavien Howard.
Davis is battle tested and ready to go.