For Davante Adams, Sunday’s Family Night wasn’t unlike the course of his first two seasons in the NFL.
Some smoke and sparks but not quite a full-blown fireworks display.
Early in Sunday night’s practice at Lambeau Field, Adams made a nice catch of a high pass at the sideline. Later, he took advantage of a matchup against inside linebacker Jake Ryan for a 25-yard gain on a corner route. After that, he beat cornerback LaDarius Gunter on a deep pass for a gain of 35. However, later in the night, he couldn’t quite corral a deep pass against cornerback Robertson Daniel before tumbling to the turf near the goal line. Finally, with Aaron Rodgers leading the marquee starters-vs.-starters two-minute drill near the end of practice, Adams dropped two passes. On the first, Adams jumped a bit too early on an out route and the ball went through his outstretched hands. Then, Adams broke wide open on a post into the end zone but he couldn’t make a diving catch of an off-target pass for what would have been a 24-yard touchdown.
“The first one I definitely should’ve come up with,” Adams said. “I think I just misjudged it in the lights. It kept soaring up. The other one was a stretch. I laid out for it but couldn’t come up with up.”
Big games as a rookie against New England and Dallas led to enormous expectations entering last season. Those expectations were fueled by Rodgers and coach Mike McCarthy, with McCarthy calling him an “offseason MVP” and Rodgers predicting Rodgers was “going to be a star.”
Adams, however, was anything but a star as he turned in what statistically was one of the worst seasons a starting receiver has had in recent NFL history, with his 5.14 yards per target the worst among all Green Bay receivers with at least 30 receptions since that stat became available in 1992.
That’s led to vastly diminished expectations for Adams – at least from an outside perspective. But it’s hard to believe that Rodgers and McCarthy – two of the men who know Adams best within the organization – could be dead wrong about Adams.
“I think he’s had a good start,” receivers coach Luke Getsy said earlier in the week. “He’s come back with a fire behind him. He’s attacking the meeting room, he’s attacking the practice field, individual periods, everything. There’s a fire lit inside of him and he’s ready to rock and roll. He’s got to continue to grow every single day though.”
Through the first week of training camp, Adams looked closer to the “star” the flameout. Of the players front and center in the competition to be the No. 3 receiver, only Jared Abbrederis has made more plays than Adams. With five practices in the books, Adams has made arguably the most impressive play of camp. On the second day of practice, he made a leaping catch over impressive second-year corner Quinten Rollins on a deep pass to Rodgers, with Adams retaining possession as he tumbled to the turf. Cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt lobbied for a penalty, that was hardly relevant to Adams.
“That is an earn-his-trust type of play. That’s what I’m looking for in practice,” Adams said. “Obviously, I want to try to make the catch regardless. Those balls down the field, we’ve got to capitalize down the field. So if in practice, if I have to get a little bit of a guy’s shoulder – I might have pushed a little bit – but those I’ve got to make sure I’m coming up. And to catch a ball like that, I’m coming back to the huddle and he’s like, ‘Tae, that’s exactly what I need.’ At the end of the day, it’s get the ball. If I’ve got to give somebody a little love tap in the process, then that’s what it is.”
In a wide-open battle to be the No. 3 receiver alongside Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, Adams needs to find consistency. After being one of the stars of the first half of Family Night, Adams let some opportunities get away.
“In essence, I guess it’s competing with each other but really we’re competing with ourselves,” he said. “I’m trying to be better than I was yesterday. It sounds cliché, but that’s really what it comes down to. I can’t worry about what another man’s doing.”
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.