GREEN BAY – From the receiving yards to the touchdowns, Davante Adams gave the Packers everything they could’ve asked for during his third NFL season.
Still, that didn’t stop receivers coach Luke Getsy from issuing a challenge to Adams this spring.
The talk had nothing to do with Adams eclipsing his breakthrough campaign of 75 receptions, 997 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns, though.
Instead, Getsy’s message had to do with leadership.
“He and I talked about him growing in that area,” Getsy said. “He’s done a great job in meetings and giving the young guys some really good perspectives this offseason. The words he’s choosing and when he’s choosing them – he’s been hitting the right buttons.”
Adams knows his place in a receiver room that features two Pro Bowl veterans in Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, who possess 15 years of combined NFL experience.
At the same time, the 6-foot-1, 215-pound Adams also understands more will be asked of him in the meeting room and practice field in the wake of his 2016 season.
Adams received a small taste of that last week after the Packers dismissed Nelson, Cobb and the rest of the team’s veterans from minicamp. While Adams led the group in each individual drill and was the veteran voice in the classroom, it wasn’t anything the 24-year-old receiver isn’t used to.
“I’ve had a lot of practice with doing that since I’ve been here because that’s kind of the way our wideout room flows,” Adams said. “We all learn from each other. Just because you play a long time doesn’t mean you don’t have room where you can learn things. Obviously with me being one of the older guys in the room now, I definitely take advantage of being able to help out whomever.”
This spring has been quite a change from a year ago at this time when a majority of the questions Adams faced were related to a frustrating 2015 season in which the former second-round pick was besieged by ankle and knee injuries.
Finally healthy last season, Adams lived up the potential quarterback Aaron Rodgers and his teammates felt he always had. One spectacular catch after another, Adams gradually developed into a household name as the season progressed.
His 12 touchdown catches were second in the league to only Nelson (14).
“I think he’d be the first to tell you that the injuries that he fought through in Year 2, he was definitely much healthier in Year 3,” said Head Coach Mike McCarthy of Adams. “Frankly, I thought we did a much better job creating opportunities for him last year not only as the No. 1 receiver (on certain plays) but also in the No. 2 and No. 3 hole as far as formation and alignment. So (with) increased opportunities, he cashed in on it.”
The questions have changed, but Adams’ mentality is the same as it was last year. His confidence is unwavering. It doesn’t matter whether he’s coming off a difficult season or a career-defining one, Adams is already focused on what’s next.
He kept to the same offseason routine as last year, working out with former Fresno State teammate, Derek Carr, and training with close friend Richard Rodgers in California.
Adams did a lot of running, a big improvement over last year when a late-season knee injury forced him off his feet during the early part of the offseason. He’s also using a meal service to make sure he’s eating right at all times.
“I do everything I can to make sure I’m taking care of my body and all the things I can control,” Adams said. “Fortunately, it seems like all the things have happened to me injury-wise since I’ve been here have been freak things. Somebody falling on my ankle, falling on my knee. It’s not anything having to do with me – knock on wood – not taking care of my body.”
Adams, a second-round pick in 2014, understands the questions he’ll face entering a contract year, but it’s not something he’s actively thinking about. That’s his agent’s job.
The more time he spends considering his future, the less attention he’s investing into what’s directly ahead of him. Ultimately, that’s all the matters.
“I’ll let that stuff take care of itself, and when it’s meant to go down, it’ll go down,” Adams said. “It’s not something I’m thinking about because I have to be able to repeat what I did last year and top that. Then, I’ll really put myself in a good position for when it’s time for that.”
Adams is excited about the opportunity in front of this offense. The Packers return all of their receivers from a year ago and added veteran tight ends Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks.
With the trust of Rodgers and his coaches, Adams looks forward to building on what he did last season and possibly surpassing the 1,000-yard mark that barely eluded him in 2016.
“I feel like I’m really just scratching the surface right now,” Adams said. “I displayed a lot of what I’m capable of last year and even before that. You guys have seen flashes of what I can do, but you see Jordy Nelson – he didn’t come in having (1,000) receiving yards. You grow and you get better as you go along.”