GREEN BAY – It's no secret that Packers receiver Davante Adams' game is built on his footwork, both at the line of scrimmage and in the early stages of his routes.
His moves are quick, decisive, and more often than not gain separation. What made Sunday's nine-catch, 140-yard, one-TD performance at Detroit stand out even more were two things – he produced to that level after missing practice during the week due to a calf injury, and he did it against Lions CB Darius Slay, one of the top corners not just in the division but the entire NFC.
With team highs of 37 receptions for 425 yards and four TDs through five games, Adams is on pace for Green Bay's single-season record for catches (112, Sterling Sharpe, 1993) as well as a career-best for yards.
Seeing the moves Adams made to get open on a handful of his catches at Ford Field makes one ask, what bad calf?
Play No. 1: Third-and-7 from the Detroit 39, second quarter, 5:13 left
Result: 30-yard completion
Adams is lined up tight in the slot, across from Slay. There's nothing too fancy here, but if you look closely at the turf, you can see the black rubber mark Adams' left foot leaves behind as he jabs to the right and cuts back across the field, away from Slay, to make it first-and-goal.
Play No. 2: First-and-10 from the Green Bay 25, third quarter, 15:00 left
Result: 14-yard completion to TE Jimmy Graham
On the opening play of the second half, the Packers get going with a pass over the middle to Graham, but it just as easily could have gone to Adams for a similar gain. Slay's respect of the go route, plus Adams' head fake and ability to stop on a dime, give him plenty of space.
Play No. 3: Second-and-10 from the Green Bay 39, third quarter, 14:25 left
Result: 23-yard completion
Two plays later, as Marquez Valdes-Scantling (83) motions into a stack with Adams in the right slot, the Lions stay in man-to-man coverage. With no help outside, Slay has to play outside leverage, and Adams' quick fake out and cut back in gets him open. Once again, the black rubber trail from one of Adams' feet is visible on the artificial surface, showing how even with his feet moving he's always in contact with the ground, able to cut any which way.
Play No. 4: Second-and-10 from the Detroit 12, fourth quarter, 9:07 left
Result: 12-yard touchdown catch
From the tight left slot this time, Adams slow-plays his route a little at the snap, knowing the outside routes of Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown (19) have to develop a bit before he can split them. But once he decides to take the jab step inside and cut back out, he does it with lightning quick speed, even getting Slay to stumble in response, and he's wide open for the score.