GREEN BAY – No one’s making any guarantees, but Packers receiver Davante Adams took a significant step Wednesday toward returning to the lineup.
Adams practiced, on a limited basis, for the first time since injuring his toe back on Sept. 26 vs. Philadelphia. Head Coach Matt LaFleur conducted just a no-helmets workout with drills and walk-through snaps inside the Don Hutson Center, but it was still a major sign of progress for Green Bay’s two-time Pro Bowl receiver.
“It’s going to mean a lot to me,” Adams said of returning to game action, which could be as soon as this Sunday in Los Angeles against the Chargers, though his status remains uncertain. “I know it’ll mean a lot to my teammates as well. It’s been a while at this point.”
Both LaFleur and Adams characterized the situation as day-to-day for now. Adams is still dealing with some soreness, and his priority is to get back to feeling like himself again after making a lot of adjustments in how he’s been walking and running over the last few weeks.
If he plays, he doesn’t want to play the game any differently than he has in putting up three straight double-digit touchdown seasons and 378 yards receiving through the first four games of 2019. He had 10 catches for a career-best 180 yards against the Eagles before the injury.
“I’m going to be me,” he said. “If I’m on that field, I’m going to be me.”
Adams isn’t the only one anxiously waiting for that moment.
“Oh, I’ve been keeping my eyes on ‘17’ for a while,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said.
Added LaFleur: “When he’s ready to go, we’ll be ecstatic.”
The best part for the Packers is the offense has grown and evolved in Adams’ absence, and the team has won all four games he’s missed.
Running backs Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams have become a tandem of run-pass threats, tight end Jimmy Graham’s contributions have ticked up, and reserve receivers Jake Kumerow and Allen Lazard have come through when called upon.
Their production should provide Rodgers with more options as the rest of the season, with Adams, goes along. Rodgers sees the young receivers still rotating in even when Adams returns, so they shouldn’t think their role is complete or even entirely defined at this point.
“Just be ready because you never know,” Rodgers said. “You're one play away from being right back in the mix. Those guys don't automatically go to the bench or have a major diminished role. I think you have to keep rolling those guys in and giving them opportunities. They've earned it. Allen and Jake especially, they've earned opportunities, so we’ve got to keep giving them a chance to get on the field and compete.”
As for the continued involvement of the running backs in the passing game, particularly Jones, who had a monster game last Sunday in Kansas City with 159 yards receiving amongst 226 yards from scrimmage, Rodgers is “not worried about that.”
The offense is in a different place than it was when Adams was sidelined, and all he’s seen from his view is a “laser focus” and a “hunger” from his receiving mates to keep producing for Rodgers.
Adams is certainly sharing those traits the closer he gets to the green light, with the perspective he can’t make up for missing one quarter of the season in his first game back, whichever Sunday that is.
“You just have to let the game come to you,” he said. “My focus is to make sure I’m being a good teammate and continue to be a good leader, and do what I do when I get on the field.”