Rapid Clip: Ervin Gets Shot on Returns

Bill Huber

GREEN BAY, Wis. – Before Tyler Ervin became the Green Bay Packers’ latest hope to salvage their woeful kick-return units, he was a budding barber back home in San Bernardino, Calif.

“When I was in college, I took the trade of doing the stuff with the clippers very seriously,” Ervin said after fielding kicks inside Lambeau Field on Thursday. “I loved it. I started cutting hair when I was maybe 16 and carried it through and got better. Before you knew it, I had a lot of guys wanting haircuts. I still love it to this day. I don’t have much time to do it but it’s always going to be in my heart.”

Ervin is especially short on time now after joining the team off waivers from Jacksonville earlier this week. Green Bay’s kickoff-return unit ranks 28th in the NFL and its punt-return unit is on pace to be the worst in NFL history. Based on this year, he seems an unlikely candidate to come to the rescue. He was released by Baltimore near the end of training camp and landed with the Jaguars. He averaged 21.4 yards per kickoff return and just 1.8 yards per punt return in six games. He fumbled against the Jets in Week 8, was inactive the next three weeks and released on Saturday.

However, as a fourth-round pick by Houston in 2016, Ervin averaged 8.9 yards per punt return and 21.0 yards per kickoff return in three seasons. At the 2016 Scouting Combine, he was the second-fastest running back with a 4.41 in the 40-yard dash. With speed and experience – a factor the Packers have lacked since trading Trevor Davis – the hope is Ervin can provide a much-needed spark.

“Extremely quick,” special teams coordinator Shawn Mennenga said. “He’s got really good short-area quickness, good feet, can make guys miss. A veteran guy that’s been back there so he’s got some experience back there. He’s got a good, calm demeanor. I like what he does as far as making guys miss and good quickness and acceleration.”

Ervin said it’s been a “dream” to play at Lambeau Field. He figures to do just that on Sunday against the Washington Redskins. Years earlier, he dreamed of cutting hair while watching his barber work his magic.

“Me and him were really good friends when I was growing up,” Ervin said. “I got curious. I’m like, ‘How do you do that?’ He said, ‘Why don’t you start watching?’ I would literally go to the barbershop and watch him cut hair for hours. I finally had the savings to go get my first pair of clippers – a pair of Wahl clippers I got from Walmart back in the day.”

At San Jose State, where he returned five kicks for touchdowns while being a productive dual-threat running back, Ervin’s list of clientele grew to 35 teammates and classmates. Before there were 35, there was one. Who would be the first to risk looking silly with a slip of those shiny, new clippers?

His nephew.

“At the time, he was maybe 6 or 7 years old,” Ervin said. “I think he trusts me still but he was my guinea pig to start doing some stuff.”

How did it turn out?

“It was pretty good,” Ervin said. “Now, if I were to look back at it, I could definitely see some improvement. Once you get seasoned in a craft, you see inconsistencies from when you first started. At the time, I thought it was great.”