After spending the entire offseason and first six weeks of this season on the physically unable to perform list, the special teams ace made his return to action against Buffalo last Sunday and immediately resumed his old duties as the punt team’s personal protector.
“Cody’s an intrinsic piece for us. He does a really good job for us commanding, a signal caller, making adjustments, playing fast — when he’s taking off running he can run, he can move. Very knowledgeable of everything in the kicking game, football overall,” special teams coordinator Cam Achord explained.
“So, it’s definitely a blessing to have him back on the field out there. He played well for us. It makes my job a little bit easier when you have good players. They can go out there and execute and allows you to be more multiple and create more advantages for those guys.”
In his first game back, Davis played 15 total special teams snaps for the Patriots. Beyond his role on the punt team, the veteran was a key part of New England’s busy kickoff coverage.
While their seven kickoffs were a season-high, Buffalo’s three returns marked the most against New England this season. Based off of kicker Chad Ryland’s setups and kicks, it seemed the unit was inviting the returns.
“Our guys in that kickoff unit, they continuously are getting the itch to, ‘Hey, let’s cover, let’s go down and cover some kicks,’” Achord said. “So, when you feel like you can go down there and you can cover and you set the defense up with a long field you want to take advantage of opportunities. Whether that’s Chad changing his approach because we don’t want to kick the ball 12 deep because the wind is pushing the ball or its a shorter approach — a full approach into the wind.
“Some of those things do play into it and it’s just game by game. How’s the game flow, how it’s going on what we’re trying to do situationally there for sure.”
Whether New England saw something in Buffalo’s return unit or with returner Ty Johnson is unknown, but whatever their plan was worked. On Johnson’s three kick returns, he averaged just 19.3 yards.
In addition to their success covering kicks, New England had perhaps their best special teams performance of the season on Sunday. It may not have been a surprise it came with Davis back in the lineup.
“It makes my job, like I said, a lot easier when you have really good football players,” Achord added of Davis’ return. “Those are the guys that go out there and have to do it and help you win the games. So, very blessed to have him back. Great guy and great football player for sure.”