New addition Tyler Ervin hopes to solve Packers' return woes
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New addition Tyler Ervin hopes to solve Packers' return woes

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Tyler Ervin photo

Tyler Ervin, then a Jaguar, returns a kickoff against the Jets on Oct. 27 in Jacksonville, Fla.

GREEN BAY — Tyler Ervin said Wednesday that “it’s always been a dream of mine to come play at Lambeau.” The Green Bay Packers would like nothing more than for Ervin to change the course of their nightmarish season in the return game.

Having traded incumbent punt and kickoff returner Trevor Davis after two regular-season games and been less than thrilled with replacements Darrius Shepherd and Tremon Smith, the Packers put a waiver claim in Monday on Ervin, who was cut by the Jacksonville Jaguars after posting less-than-impressive numbers in six games.

“Just really excited for the opportunity,” Ervin said after practice Wednesday. “It’s just (a matter of) getting adjusted, sticking your head in the books and being confident. That’s the main thing. Coming out and having fun.”

A running back by trade, Ervin was the Houston Texans’ fourth-round pick out of San Jose State in 2016 and in four NFL seasons has averaged 8.3 yards per punt return and 21.1 yards per kickoff return. In Jacksonville, he was averaging 1.8 yards per return on punts and 21.4 yards on kickoffs.

As underwhelming as those numbers are, they’re far more impressive than what the Packers have compiled. They enter Sunday’s game against the Washington Redskins with minus-8 punt return yards — an average of minus-0.9 yards per return — and averaging 19.5 yards per kickoff return.

The Packers have now cut Smith twice this season, putting him on the practice squad after he cleared waivers the first time and then calling him back up to the 53-man roster. This time, Smith opted not to return to the Packers after passing through waivers and signed on with the Philadelphia Eagles’ practice squad instead. Shepherd remains on the Packers’ practice squad after his release earlier this season.

Coach Matt LaFleur confirmed that Ervin will handle both kickoffs and punts against Washington.

“That’s the plan right now,” LaFleur said. “I got a chance to watch a little bit of tape on him. He’s an elusive guy. He’s got some juice. He’s pretty fast. I also like his versatility in terms of being able to add some depth to our running back position. He’s played a little bit in the slot as well.”

Asked how he can help improve the struggling return game, Ervin replied, “It’s just a matter of making good decisions back there and trying to make the play when it’s there, try not to force anything. For me, I just try to play my game. When I do that, I tend to have some success. That’s what I’m going to go ahead and do.”

Home-field hopes

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has his sights set on getting the Packers a first-round playoff bye and at least one postseason game at home, but first, he’d like the fan base to get some important practice in by brewing up a challenging home-field advantage Sunday against the Redskins.

Rodgers acknowledged that players and fans sometimes have trouble getting fired up for a noon game — especially against a team like the struggling 3-9 Redskins — and said his team can feed off energy from the crowd under such circumstances.

“I think the key is to get that home-field advantage, and we need that crowd as loud as possible,” Rodgers said. “The noon games usually start a little bit slower over the years it seems, but we need (to set) early alarm clocks for our fans.

“Get out there, get the tailgating going, get the PBR flowing or the Leinie’s or the Miller or whatever you choose and let’s get that thing roaring from kickoff. Because we need the support from our fans and get them loud when (the Redskins) are on offense right from the first down to the last.”

Extra points

Wide receiver Davante Adams (toe) was listed as a full participant in Wednesday’s practice on the team’s injury report, marking the first time since he sustained his Sept. 26 injury that he’s been designated as having practiced in full. … Tight end Jimmy Graham (calf, wrist), wide receiver Ryan Grant (illness) and cornerback Tramon Williams (veteran rest) did not practice. Right tackle Bryan Bulaga (knee), cornerback Kevin King (shoulder) and tight end Marcedes Lewis (veteran rest) were limited. … Four-time Pro Bowl guard Josh Sitton, who played eight seasons in Green Bay before being cut shortly before the 2016 season opener, informed the team that he plans to retire with the Packers. Sitton is slated to be one of the honorary alumni captains at Sunday’s game. Sitton, who was drafted by Green Bay in the fourth round in 2008, started 112 of 121 regular-season games during his career with Green Bay and was a three-time Pro Bowl player with the Packers, earning his final Pro Bowl honor with Chicago in 2016.

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