Packers receiver Davante Adams returns to Seattle as ‘a top player in this league’
GREEN BAY — Aaron Rodgers vividly remembers Davante Adams as a rookie. He remembers how good he thought the second-round pick could be, how impressed he was by the natural ability and potential the 21-year-old wide receiver possessed.
But the reason why the Green Bay Packers two-time NFL MVP quarterback now appreciates what Adams has become — the Packers’ unquestioned No. 1 offensive weapon and, in Rodgers’ opinion, undoubtedly one of the league’s best receivers — is how Adams has taken his talent and maximized it with a work ethic and commitment to practicing the right way, which he learned from mentors Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb.
“He’s a top player in this league. He’s put himself in those conversations as best receiver in the NFL. I think he really has,” Rodgers said Tuesday as the Packers prepared to depart Green Bay for Thursday night’s game against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field.
“Getting the credit that he deserves, it’s going to come. But the real respect is the coverage that he faces. He doesn’t face a lot of 1-on-1s. He’s getting help (shifted to him), so we’ve got to find ways to keep moving him around in different spots and getting him the ball. He’s such a dynamic player.
“The great thing about him is that, to me, his success has been gradual as his practice habits have improved. He’s got to watch two of the best to ever do it for us as far as approach with Jordy and Randall. He practices like a great player. He sets a great example for our young guys on what it looks like every single day.
“Just the other day at practice, we had 1-on-1s and it was an absolute clinic by him — and he was going against (rookie cornerback) Jaire (Alexander), who’s a very good player. That’s what it means to be a great player is you bring it every single day. Davante is in that category, deserves to be mentioned among the names that people talk about as best receivers in the NFL.“
It’s been just over four years ago since Adams made his NFL debut in Seattle against the Seahawks. He played nine snaps that day, didn’t have a ball thrown his direction.
He enters Thursday night having caught 62 passes (on 94 targets) for 787 yards with nine touchdowns in nine games, ranking him eighth in the NFL in receptions, 11th in receiving yards and second in TD catches. Whereas he was an afterthought in that 2014 regular-season opener — the Packers essentially ignored that side of the field, with Adams and Jarrett Boykin lining up across from then-shutdown All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman — you can bet the Seahawks will be devoting plenty of attention to him.
And even though they will, Rodgers said Tuesday he has to throw the ball to Adams, double-covered or not— especially in the red zone.
“He brings a different skill-set than most of the receivers in the NFL,” Rodgers said. “His release patterns are second to none. He has the ability to create separation, (on) in breakers and out breakers. He has enough speed that you have to respect his ability to go over the top. And then he’s just a very technical route-runner. When you combine all of those things, you have a guy who legitimately can get open and catch balls, regardless of who’s throwing him the ball.
“Because the window is so tight, and he can create enough separation to where he makes that window bigger. ... So with the windows being tiny as we get inside the 20, when you’ve got a guy that can create a lot of separation, it gives you a way higher percentage of completions in those areas.“
Adams didn’t want to spend much time Tuesday contemplating how far he’s come. And while he lived through some growing pains in 2015 — after an early-season ankle injury against the Seahawks limited his effectiveness as he tried to replace an injured Nelson — the truth is he’s always known he was capable of this.
“I mean, it’s really the confidence in my abilities all along,” Adams said. “I’ve had obviously a period around here where I wasn’t playing as well (as I am now), but just kind of knowing deep down that I am who the player who I have always known myself to be, just to stay true to it, trust my training and all that.
“I’ve got a great support system with the locker room and coaching staff and my family as well, obviously. Just having them in my corner has always kept me where I’m humble but still very confident in knowing what I can do.”
From the infirmary
The Packers had four injured players who did not travel with the team Tuesday evening to Seattle — safety Kentrell Brice (ankle), wide receiver Randall Cobb (hamstring), cornerback Kevin King (hamstring) and linebacker Nick Perry (knee).
The Packers didn’t officially rule any of the players out, but while they were slated to continue to do their rehabilitation work back in Green Bay, it seems unlikely the Packers would fly them out today to meet the team. Both of the team’s charter flights to Seattle departed on Tuesday evening.
None of the four took part in Tuesday’s light practice. Tight end Jimmy Graham, who has been missing midweek practices to rest his knee, also did not practice, and guard Lucas Patrick (concussion) didn’t take part, either.
Starting offensive tackles David Bakhtiari (knee) and Bryan Bulaga (knee) were limited participants, while linebacker Blake Martinez (ankle) and cornerback Bashaud Breeland (groin) were able to practice on a limited basis – something they would not have been able to do on Monday had the team practiced.
With King likely to miss his second straight game, Breeland, who had his first interception as a Packer on Sunday, would likely start in his place. Raven Greene, who converted a fake punt and nearly intercepted a pass against Miami, could see more action on defense if Brice can’t go.
The Packers are set to practice today in the Seattle area, a session coach Mike McCarthy said would go a long way to deciding who might be able to play Thursday night. That makes it even less likely the four players who stayed behind will be ready for the game.
“(We won’t know) really until we can get these injured players out to Seattle and see them move,” McCarthy said. “Let’s make no bones about it. This is difficult for all players in the league to come off of a Sunday game and play Thursday night. So that’s clearly the biggest challenge.”