GREEN BAY – Jordy Nelson has no doubt the entire Packers’ receiving corps is on the same page with quarterback Brett Hundley.
But seeing the fourth quarter that Hundley and Davante Adams put together in Chicago last Sunday – three catches for 79 yards, including a 19-yard back-shoulder touchdown and a 42-yard go route on third-and-10 with two minutes left – can make anyone wonder if a special connection is developing.
“I think there can be,” Nelson said after practice on Wednesday. “It’s something you can see the confidence. Confidence plays a huge factor. They’re building that right now.
“They were very difficult catches, and for Brett to be able to put it out there and let it happen was huge.”
Both clutch throws were dead-on accurate, and Adams showed tremendous body control to bring them both in, the 42-yarder one-handed, no less.
There’s a lot that goes into those moments. Adams talked about the game-planning meetings, the chats in the hallway and the scribbles on the white board that help make plays like that happen.
But ideas and plans are only that until they’re executed in a game, and this was high-level stuff, on the road, in the fourth quarter.
How much it means for the chemistry between the two going forward will be revealed soon enough, but there’s no substitute for making connections in the most important circumstances.
“That’s where it really matters,” Adams said. “He knows I can make plays, I know he can make plays, but to do it, the self-satisfaction and gratification, it takes it to a new level.”
Ironically, the fourth quarter in Chicago began with a forgettable play between the two, as Hundley’s slant pass to Adams over the middle was dropped. It wasn’t a great throw, but it was catchable, and the miscue led to a long field-goal try instead of continuing a potential touchdown drive.
To see the way the rest of the fourth quarter unfolded, it was as though the hiccup never happened. Adams said in the wet conditions it’s even more imperative as a receiver to have a short memory on plays like that.
“You don’t have to prove anything to anybody but yourself, and that’s when it sets in,” he said.
Hundley and the Packers did need to prove they could beat defenders deep, though, because it hadn’t happened until trying to close out the Bears. Hundley’s longest gains to that point had been catch-and-runs, which are big, but beating a defense over the top commands greater attention.
“I think every week we’ve taken our shots,” Hundley said. “But we have it on tape. We’ve shown that we can hit it, and we have the receivers who can go up and get it.”
As Wednesday’s practice inside the Don Hutson Center got going, those receivers couldn’t help but see what else was going on.
Aaron Rodgers, on the one-month anniversary of his broken collarbone, was off to the side doing rehab with one of the team’s athletic trainers. The exercises looked mostly geared toward stretching and cardio work, and Rodgers did not throw a football.
Still, Rodgers’ presence in any team setting provides a boost, however small, to everyone involved.
“I was peeking over there looking at him, too,” Adams said. “He looked good so far. Once he gets healed up, I know we’ll be excited to have him back.”
In the meantime, there’s more progress to be made. The Packers’ first win with Hundley as the starting QB can’t be the peak, but the start of a climb.
Adams is now the Packers’ leading receiver on the season, with 42 catches for 494 yards and six touchdowns. Nelson has the same TD total, while his (33-358) and Randall Cobb’s (36-371) other numbers aren’t far behind.
Any one of them is confident in having a big game with Hundley at any time, but with Rodgers out for at least four more games, it will be interesting to see how Hundley and Adams build on what they did in Chicago.
“We just have to keep proving to ourselves we can make plays like that to win these games,” Adams said.