GREEN BAY – It’s not considered speaking with the enemy when it happens on the practice field.
Second-year defensive lineman Montravius Adams will use any resource available to him, and that includes picking the brains of his teammates on the offensive line right after they’ve gone head-to-head on a play.
“If we had a one-on-one pass rush, he’ll ask what made me set him a certain way, or what made me use my hands a certain way,” guard Justin McCray said. “Just to get a feel of what I was thinking going into it versus what he was thinking, and why it might have worked or not worked.”
It’s just another example of how Adams is trying to do so much more in his second season compared to his first, which was basically lost to injury.
Heading into preseason game No. 2 on Thursday night, the 2017 third-round draft pick out of Auburn already has almost as many practices in pads this year as he did all of his rookie season, when a foot injury on the second day of training camp sent him off to surgery and rehab.
He played sparingly from late September through the end of the year, recording five total tackles in seven games, and came back in 2018 determined to find a role on a deep, experienced defensive line.
So far, so good, as Adams has turned in some impressive moments in camp. His quick first step and swim move have been on display in the one-on-ones, and he made a nice run stop for no gain on goal-to-go in the first preseason game vs. Tennessee last week.
It’s a long way from what the likes of Mike Daniels, Muhammad Wilkerson and Kenny Clark have done in the NFL, but it’s a start. Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine has encouraged Adams to soak in everything he can from the accomplished veterans in front of him.
“How to work, how to be a professional, not just watching film but studying it, the mentality it takes, the intensity it takes,” Pettine said. “I think we all see in Montravius the potential, but at some point that word, it’s got to turn into the realization of it.”
That’s where the extra conversations come in. Adams considers himself a good listener, and McCray’s perspective is worth listening to as a young player who has all but locked down the starting job at right guard.
For McCray, the value of the impromptu chats on the practice field cuts both ways, so he’s happy to oblige Adams, even if they were just in each other’s faces battling away.
“It’s like an ‘across the hall’ meeting,” McCray said, referring to the times in the offseason the offensive and defensive players would share perspectives in the video rooms. “It’s like watching film and getting into another player’s mind.”
Adams’ approach is making an impression, and the enjoyment of his first training camp since college is showing through as well.
“He’s hungry, and that’s what you want out of all your teammates,” Daniels said. “Being an older guy in the same room as him, you want younger guys to push you with the way they practice, perform and compete, and I think he’s been bringing that edge. He’s only going to get better.”
As he works to add a greater variety of pass-rush moves to his repertoire, Adams is also looking to fit in amongst a mix of personalities on the defensive line. Daniels is loud and boisterous while Wilkerson is more quiet and laid-back. Clark and third-year pro Dean Lowry fall somewhere in between.
Adams, who’s been known to tap an unsuspecting team website reporter on one shoulder only to walk away in the other direction, just smiles at a request to describe his own personality. Because it matters little to him compared to his health and the fact that he’s practicing every day.
“I’m just happy to be in a group I can learn from and that really want to help me,” he said.
“Last year was a big letdown for me, as a person. Not only do I feel I let down my team, but myself. That’s what really hurt me. Now I’m back, I feel great, and anytime the coaches put me in a position, I feel like I can do what I need to do.”