GREEN BAY – One rep was all it took.
At the onset of Packers training camp in 2018, Davante Adams was introduced to rookie first-round pick Jaire Alexander in a 1-on-1 period between Green Bay's receivers and cornerbacks.
The veteran wideout got the better of the newcomer on that first rep – and there wasn't really any shame in that. Alexander was three months into his NFL career while Adams was coming off his first Pro Bowl season.
Most rookies wouldn't have thought twice about the rep, shrugging it off and waiting for their position coach to provide notes on what they could have done better.
By the time Adams got back to the locker room after practice, Alexander already was reviewing the film on his iPad. He wanted to know what was needed to win the next round.
"A young player, especially a rookie, they'll come in and get beat and it's just kind of we'll learn from it on tape, but it wasn't something that really got to them, to their core, like how it was with him," Adams said. "That's when I knew he was gonna be a special player."
Today, Alexander and Adams represent two of the NFL's best at their respective positions. Years of honing their skills against each other have produced a combined eight Pro Bowls and five All-Pro selections.
The two played four seasons together before Adams was traded to Las Vegas in March 2022, and now they are set to square off when the Packers travel to face the Raiders this Monday night.
Alexander and Adams knew Green Bay and Las Vegas would catch each other on the 2023 schedule based on the NFC North-AFC West rotation, and even joked about a possible matchup during last season's Pro Bowl Games.
"We talked about him taking a week off before he played us, so he can be really fresh," said Alexander with a smile. "I told him I was going to take a week off, too."
As it turns out, both playmakers are currently dealing with some nicks and bruises. Alexander has missed two games with a back issue, while Adams suffered a shoulder injury in the Raiders' 24-17 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers this past Sunday.
A limited participant in Thursday's practice, Alexander said his back is feeling better. When asked about his desire to play against the Raiders and Adams, the 26-year-old cornerback admitted that "I can't miss this matchup. With the best."
"It's pretty evident he's the best in the league," Alexander said. "He's just quick. I mean I can go on and on, but he's the best. I'll leave it at that."
Adams shattered numerous franchise records during his eight seasons in Green Bay, including single-season receptions (123) and receiving yards (1,553) in 2021. He ranks inside the top four in career catches (669, second), receiving yards (8,121, fourth) and receiving touchdowns (73, second).
It took just one season in Las Vegas for the 30-year-old receiver to become the first Raiders player to record 100 receptions. He's also one of just six players to record 100-plus and 1,500 receiving yards in back-to-back seasons.
Beyond just Adams' skill, what Alexander appreciated most was how open the veteran receiver was with him during his formative years in Green Bay.
If Alexander's play warranted praise, Adams delivered it. If there was something he felt Alexander could improve, Adams was vocal about that, too.
"He was always real helpful in that way," Alexander said. "He would tell me what he liked that I did, or maybe what I can get better at, which is why I respect him. Lining up against me, I mean, come on, that's not easy. So, for him to come and give me pointers, I respected that about him."
Speaking with reporters in Las Vegas on Thursday, Adams called Alexander "one of the most locked-in players as far as from the jump that I got to play with."
Assuming both play Monday, only time will tell how much Adams and Alexander will line up against one another. After helping out Alexander early on, Adams is excited to test himself against the two-time All-Pro cornerback.
"I didn't create that monster, but he definitely turned into one," said Adams of Alexander. "It's always good to see a player, especially a highly touted player like that, get drafted in the first round and realize his potential and live up to it. It's fun to see and it's definitely going to be fun to play against him."
Adams looks back on his time in Green Bay fondly, feeling "mutual love and respect" between him and the Packers organization. While teammates with just 18 of the 53 players on Green Bay's current active roster, Adams has kept in touch with Head Coach Matt LaFleur and many of the team's coaches and personnel.
On Monday night, however, it'll be all business, as the Packers represent the only NFL team Adams has yet to face in his storied career.
"I don't know how many more times in my career – and it definitely hasn't happened to this point – where I'll be able to line up across from somebody with the green and gold on," Adams said. "That'll take some adjusting, getting used to that, but for the most part it'll be just another game."