GREEN BAY – The sight of Davante Adams, laughing and joking with teammates, brought an immediate smile to Aaron Rodgers’ face the moment the Packers quarterback walked back into the locker room Tuesday after the team’s long weekend.
Five days earlier, Rodgers and the more than 78,000 packed into Lambeau Field watched with bated breath as the fourth-year receiver was stretchered off the field following a hit from Chicago linebacker Danny Trevathan.
After the 35-14 win over the Bears was complete, Rodgers, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and several other teammates visited Adams at a nearby hospital in the wee hours of Friday morning.
As scary as the incident was, Adams was already in good spirits when his teammates arrived and out of the hospital the next day. With MRI results coming back clean, Adams was even able to practice Wednesday in a limited capacity.
While he remains in the concussion protocol, Adams’ presence in the locker room this week came as a huge sigh of relief for everyone involved.
“One-hundred percent. There were a number of us there at the hospital, checking in on him the next day and he just sounded like he was in a good mood,” Rodgers said. “You hope for the tests to be clean, first of all, and then for him to be discharged and take it from there. We all came back on Tuesday and he was in good spirits, he felt good, and his neck felt good, and that was really encouraging.”
Rodgers has been on the field for a few scary incidents dating back to his time at the University of California-Berkley. In 13 seasons with the Packers, he’s witnessed Terrence Murphy, Jermichael Finley and Nick Collins have their careers end due to on-field collisions.
There was another close call this past preseason when seventh-round draft pick Malachi Dupre was stretchered off after taking a hit to the head-and-neck area against Philadelphia. Dupre, who avoided a serious injury, later told reporters Rodgers was the first to visit him in the hospital.
Past experience doesn’t make it any easier to watch a teammate go through such an ordeal, but Adams’ positivity and eagerness to get out of the hospital quickly eased tensions.
Knowing Adams, it also wasn’t a surprise for teammates to see the 24-year-old receiver back on the field Wednesday.
“I’m just glad to see him walking again,” receiver Randall Cobb said. “When I went to the hospital and saw him the other night, he was back to his normal self, joking around, trying to break out of the hospital. I’m just glad to see him in good health.”
Cobb, who was teammates with Trevathan at Kentucky, said the Bears linebacker reached out to him through a text message afterward, asking to relay a message to Adams.
The NFL initially handed Trevathan a two-game suspension for the hit, though the league announced Monday it had been reduced to one game after an appeal.
Adams is not permitted to talk with the media due to his involvement with the concussion protocol, but Nelson said Adams has been participating in meetings leading up to Sunday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys.
To play in the game, Adams will need to be cleared by an independent neurologist this week. If he does, it won’t be the first time he’s cleared the protocol in one week’s time. Last October, he sustained a concussion vs. Dallas but was cleared in time to play against the Bears in a Thursday night contest.
Adams caught 13 passes for 132 yards and two touchdowns in the game. Those 13 receptions were good for second-most in franchise history behind only Don Hutson’s 14 in 1942.
“He can recover from those rapidly apparently,” Nelson said. “It’s good to have him back out there. Like we said Thursday night, his health is most important and once that’s squared away, we’d love to have him back.”
Regardless of Adams’ status for Sunday’s game, the Packers were just happy to have their teammate back after finishing last Thursday’s game with his health weighing heavily on their minds.
“I think it’s a relief more than anything that he’s fine and everything is OK,” center Corey Linsley said. “That’s the last thing you want to see – that happen to anybody on either side of the ball on any team in the league. It’s a huge relief with this team because he’s a vital part of our offense, as well.”