Despite extra attention, Davante Adams still finding his way to big plays

Packers’ All-Pro receiver continues elevating his game in Year 8

WR Davante Adams

GREEN BAY – It's no secret Davante Adams is a film junkie.

Since his rookie year in 2014, the Packers' All-Pro receiver has spoken at length about all the wideouts, both past and present, that he's studied and patterned parts of his game after.

But it's not just receivers Adams is watching.

His never-ending quest towards self-improvement continued during Sunday night's marquee matchup between Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens, and Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs.

Among the 20.8 million who tuned in for the Ravens' thrilling 36-35 victory was Adams, who was inspired by Jackson's heroics. The former NFL MVP not only threw for 239 yards and a touchdown but also ran for another 107 and two TDs.

The performance sent Adams down a rabbit hole of Jackson highlights.

"I watched probably 25 minutes' worth of Lamar Jackson highlights before the game. That's not a joke, either. I'm being dead serious," said Adams on Wednesday. "I was like if he can do that, I should be able to do half of what he's doing as far as making people miss. I've had that in my mind a little bit and used that as motivation."

Reflecting on his contributions to the Packers' 35-17 win over Detroit on Monday Night Football, Adams admits he might have Jackson to thank for it.

The first of his eight catches against the Lions started innocently enough. Adams ran a short stick route and caught a quick pass from Aaron Rodgers after a Lions miscue left the four-time Pro Bowler completely open.

Adams turned upfield before stopping on a dime and cutting 90 degrees towards the sideline. The abrupt change of direction caused Detroit cornerback Amani Oruwariye to bowl into safety Will Harris, wiping out both defenders and clearing the sideline for Adams.

What should have been a small pickup turned into a 19-yard completion on second-and-2. It was a play straight out of Jackson's make-'em-miss playbook.

"They kind of got lost in their coverage as far as whose responsibility it was to take me over in the middle of the field," recalled Adams on Wednesday afternoon. "Anytime I feel like there's a vacancy, you have a better opportunity to do that because you can kind of see the field a little bit better."

With all the attention and double-teams Adams has been receiving, it's not often the 28-year-old receiver goes completely uncovered these days. Whenever it happens, Adams understands the importance of maximizing every yard.

Yards after the catch have been a heavy point of emphasis in Green Bay's receivers room for years. Former receivers coach Edgar Bennett used to drill it into Jordy Nelson, James Jones and Randall Cobb during their formative years.

While often praised for his route-running, concentration and knack for big catches, Adams has quietly been one of the NFL's top receivers when it comes to generating yards after the catch.

Adams led all receivers last year with 592 yards after catch, according to Pro Football Reference, and trailed only New Orleans running back Alvin Kamara (734) in the category.

"I feel like I'm a pretty well-rounded receiver," said Adams, who finished with a game-high 121 receiving yards Monday night. "I feel like I can do a lot of things well. I just wanted to keep pushing and keep building on what I've done, and what I did this past year.

"I guess one thing is continuing to keep producing with the coverage that we're starting to get and to be a reliable option for (Rodgers) just regardless of whatever they're doing out there. My mindset is continue to be great regardless of what they do to try to stop me."

During his weekly appearance Tuesday on the Pat McAfee Show, Rodgers praised Adams for how the eighth-year receiver has continued to elevate his game even after catching a team-record 115 passes and matching Sterling Sharpe's single-season franchise record for most receiving TDs (18) in 2020.

Rodgers felt so strongly about it he even said something to Adams on the sideline Monday night.

"As great as he was last year – and he was spectacular – I think he's a better player this year. I really do," Rodgers recalled in his interview with McAfee. "He retorted to me (Monday) night, 'We're just getting started.'"

That first catch was only the beginning for Adams. He flashed remarkable hands and body control on a game-changing, 50-yard pass from Rodgers in the third quarter.

The Packers were trailing 21-17 and facing third-and-12 at the time of Adams' catch. Three plays later, Rodgers threw a 22-yard touchdown to tight end Robert Tonyan.

Adams then helped put the game away when he leapt for a high pass from Rodgers on second-and-5 and picked up 22 yards. All told, Adams caught four of Green Bay's six longest completions in the game despite the Lions routinely lining up in a Cover-2 defense and rolling a safety in his direction.

"It's a copycat league, so you see what one team's doing, they have success doing something against you, then next week you can count on another team doing it," Adams said.

"Obviously they saw something and they liked it, as far as what they saw in the Saints film, but hopefully this week we can get some one-on-one opportunities and get out there and go see what it's like."

By and large, Adams is expecting a different type of game this Sunday night against San Francisco, which doesn't use as much cloud coverage in its scheme. Still, inside the red zone, Adams expects to continue to see extra attention from defensive backs.

According to Pro Football Reference, Adams led all receivers in 2020 with 23 catches for 135 yards and 14 TDs inside the 20. Through two games this year, Adams has just one catch for no gain.

"They're cheating," said Adams with a smile. "It's been a lot of doubles. I don't think I've gotten a single in the red zone yet. … It's not gonna be as easy, but last year they did the same thing, too. We'll find ways to definitely get me in there."

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