GREEN BAY – If last Sunday becomes the turn-the-corner game for Davante Adams in 2015, the Packers offense might soon find the higher gear it’s looking for.
Elevated to No. 2 receiver and Green Bay’s top offensive weapon on the outside following Jordy Nelson’s injury, Adams started slowly in his second season.
An ankle injury in Week 2 kept him out of all but one series of the next four games, and upon returning to the lineup after the bye, his production still lagged, with just seven catches for 61 yards against Denver and Carolina, minus a meaningless 40-yard end-of-half Hail Mary grab.
Then last Sunday vs. Detroit, quarterback Aaron Rodgers targeted Adams on 21 passes, 22 including the late two-point try. He was the focal point of the passing attack, but he conceded on Thursday, the first time he’s spoken with reporters since before the Lions game, that he didn’t have the game he should have, for a number of reasons.
He caught just 10 of the throws for a modest 79 yards. He dropped a back-shoulder throw and a deep ball for a potential touchdown, both along the same sideline.
“It’s a big difference if I catch those,” Adams said.
He also grew visibly frustrated with the physical play of the Detroit cornerbacks when no flags were thrown on multiple contested passes. His emotions led to a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after one play, and he’s chalking the whole experience up to a valuable lesson learned.
“Can’t make excuses like that,” he said. “They’re going to hold. This is a let-you-play league with certain refs, so you just have to learn your refs and play through it.
“If they’re going to let you play, you might get away with some pushing yourself and things like that. You just have to play through it. You can’t depend on the refs. History has shown they won’t win games for us.”
He’s also not making excuses for the failed two-point play with 32 seconds left that would have tied the game. As the pass hit Adams’ hands, Lions corner Crezdon Butler was able to knock it away, but it’s a ball Adams believes should be his.
The pressure on Rodgers from a free blitzer coming up the middle likely prevented the throw from being precisely on target, away from the defender where only Adams could touch it, but nonetheless it was a play he knows he can make.
“Of course. Every ball that’s thrown to me I say I’ve gotta have it, no matter what,” Adams said. “It’s a privilege to have that ball thrown to you. If he tosses it up to me, then I expect to make the play.
“Obviously a few things happened on the play and I had to go back and get it, and the guy got a hand on it and he made a good play. But that’s just a piece of it. I’ve gotta make that catch.”
Twenty-plus targets again isn’t likely, nor is 61 Rodgers passes in one day, but it’s clear the Packers want and need Adams highly involved. He did have an impressive, diving one-handed grab on a slant, and higher efficiency and production on throws his way could take a double-team away from Randall Cobb here or there, or loosen things up for the running game.
The receivers are taking it upon themselves collectively to elevate their games, and if bigger numbers go to others, Adams won’t complain. But he also won’t shy away from the challenge of doing more if Rodgers keeps looking his way so often.
“Yeah, I’m ready for it,” Adams said.
He may have to be with receiver Ty Montgomery (ankle) dropping out of practice during position drills open to the media. Montgomery hasn’t played since before the bye, and going from a full participant on Wednesday to limited on Thursday would seem to put his availability for Sunday in question.
Running back Eddie Lacy declared he’ll be playing after missing last week’s game with a groin injury. Unable to open up and burst downfield in last Saturday’s practice before the Detroit game, Lacy was declared inactive on Sunday morning, but he’s been able to push himself more this week.
“I felt good today. My coach said I was moving good, I was looking good,” Lacy said. “It’s a step in the right direction.”
Head Coach Mike McCarthy said earlier this week that James Starks would take the first series in Minnesota, with Lacy coming in later. If Lacy (308 rushing yards, two TDs) can somehow shake whatever slump he’s in, that could help the offense find another dimension as well.
“I’m going to be out to do whatever I can for this team,” Lacy said in denying he won’t be out to prove anything when he returns to the field. “However that unfolds, as long as whatever I’m doing is positive and towards a ‘W’, that’s my main concern.”
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