Aaron Rodgers & Davante Adams: Respect, confidence, communication at core of special connection

Packers’ tandem starting 2020 in impressive fashion

QB Aaron Rodgers and WR Davante Adams

GREEN BAY – It's as though there weren't eight months between games.

Last January during the playoffs, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers first mentioned his relationship with star receiver Davante Adams starting to resemble the type he had with former top target Jordy Nelson.

Not that anyone doubted his sincerity, but Rodgers really wasn't kidding, and Week 1 at Minnesota reaffirmed it.

In the Packers' season-opening 43-34 win, Rodgers and Adams picked up where they left off in the playoffs, which wasn't easy. In two games last winter, Adams caught 17 passes for 298 yards and two touchdowns – setting the franchise single-game postseason receiving yardage record (160) and climbing several other team playoff charts as well.

Adams' record-tying 14 catches for 156 yards and two TDs against the Vikings only underscored how frequently, if not continuously, the two are on the same page. It's easy to take for granted, but as with Nelson, it's a relationship that's been built through all forms of communication – all the way down to Adams sending a text message to Rodgers on Wednesday when he was just right across the locker room from him.

"It's this generation now," Rodgers joked, a reminder he's nine years older than his go-to guy. But all kidding aside, Rodgers stressed the chemistry between the two didn't just magically materialize.

"We work at it. We communicate. We talk. We text, call, FaceTime. We're always staying connected about plays, adjustments, route stems, body language, a number of things."

It didn't start right away, either. When Adams arrived as a second-round draft pick in 2014, Nelson and Randall Cobb were the unquestioned top two receivers, and they had monster years.

Rodgers was always watching Adams, though, sensing the new arrival's self-confidence was "real," not false bravado. Seeing Adams, despite limited opportunities, come up big in two huge wins his rookie year (over New England in November and Dallas in the playoffs), and then noticing his confidence never waning despite a rough, injury-dampened 2015 season, earned Rodgers' respect and confirmed for him Adams would inevitably emerge.

"I think we all knew once he got his opportunity, he was going to be special, to be that No. 1 guy," Rodgers said. "(20)17 was kind of the beginning of that process and he's been a top guy really since then, but the beauty in his game is that he's always growing."

From Adams' perspective, he always appreciated Rodgers' willingness to open up, talk X's and O's and all the finer points, even though he hesitated to start those conversations at first and have them come off the wrong way. Over time, the rapport developed naturally while getting to know one another.

"It was something he always encouraged, … but I didn't necessarily want him to think I'm calling for the ball," Adams said. "As we went along, he knew where it was coming from. He understood my football IQ and just started trusting me and trusting my eyes out on the field, and I think that spread throughout the coaches as well.

"It's extremely gratifying when it's third-and-6 and I tell him the route I want to run, and we run it and it works. That's how that trust is built up and that's what's gotten us to the point we're at now."

The trust has resulted in off-the-charts production. Since 2016, Adams leads the league in touchdown receptions with 42, and he knows it should be 43 after he dropped a quick slant on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line early in last Sunday's game.

He didn't let it bother him, of course, and went on to tie Don Hutson's franchise record. Just like he didn't let all the criticism from 2015 get to him, and he went out the following year to catch 12 TD passes – triple the total from his first two seasons combined and just behind Nelson's team-leading 14 that year.

"That shows the type of person, the type of character you have, the type of confidence you actually walk around with," Rodgers said. "It gets tested for different people at different times, but real confidence is easy to spot because people who have real confidence handle adversity the right way."

They also can text their quarterback anytime, from anywhere, as the relationship continues to evolve.

"That basically just tells you about how we kind of get down as a quarterback-wide receiver tandem," Adams said. "Something will be in my head and maybe it's not the time to talk in person, but I've got something I want to share. We do that all the time.

"He's an open book and same with me, so that's just kind of how we function."

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