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Mike Vandermause column: Adams leads infusion of young receiving talent

May 16, 2014
 

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Green Bay Packers receiver Davante Adams (17) shakes hands with general manager Ted Thompson during rookie orientation camp Friday inside the Don Hutson Center in Ashwaubenon. Also shown are Jeff Janis (83) and Travis Van Leeuwen (19). Evan Siegle/Press-Gazette Media

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Wide receiver Davante Adams, the Green Bay Packers’ second-round draft choice, didn’t waste any time reaching out to quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

When Adams was selected out of Fresno State with the 53rd overall pick last weekend, he tracked down Rodgers’ cell phone number.

“Right when I got picked, I asked (receivers) Coach (Edgar) Bennett for Aaron’s number and I called him up and we were on the phone for a little bit,” Adams said Friday following the first day of rookie orientation practice.

“(I) just let him know I’m ready to get going.”

Adams is known for his athleticism and ability to leap up and snag receptions from defenders. What we’re also learning is that he knows the importance of making an impression on the guy who will be throwing him passes this season.

“He said there’s no reason that you shouldn’t be able to get going right away with this,” Adams said of their conversation. “Just pick up on everything and we’ll get you up to speed.”

If Adams is as conscientious on the field as he is off it, the Packers have surely found themselves another in a long line of excellent second-round receivers.

The list includes Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, a fact that isn’t lost on Adams, who is up to speed on recent Packers history.

“They seem to do pretty well with second-round receivers around here,” Adams said. “I mean, Green Bay knows something.”

Before the draft, Adams made a connection with former Packers receiver James Jones, both hailing from California.

Jones left the Packers for Oakland during the offseason, and Adams essentially will serve as his replacement.

“He called me (after the draft) and just said congratulations,” Adams said. “He knew that it was something that was huge for me and if I needed anything that he has it.”

Jones offered a few pointers about life as a Packers receiver, and Adams no doubt soaked up every morsel of information.

“He just tried to fill me in slowly, not just throw a whole bunch of stuff at once,” Adams said.

The Packers loaded up on receivers in the draft, taking Jared Abbrederis in the fifth round and Jeff Janis in the seventh. What had become a thin position is now seemingly one of the team’s strengths.

“Top to bottom, I don’t know if we’ve ever had as competitive as that as far as if you go just off pure evaluation of players coming into your program and aligning them with the players that are already here,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said.

Rodgers must be licking his chops at the prospect of adding three dynamic draft picks to returning playmakers Nelson, Cobb and Jarrett Boykin.

It will make for some stiff competition for playing time, if not roster spots, but the rookies appear ready for the challenge.

“Competition is good for you,” said Abbrederis, who is garnering a lot of attention because of his University of Wisconsin pedigree. “So the best man is going to be out there. I like having the competition. I’d rather have to win it against the best so I think we’re all going at it trying to make each other better and see what happens at the end of it.”

Abbrederis and Janis met in San Diego while preparing for the NFL combine, then roomed together at the Senior Bowl. They have become fast friends but now are battling for employment on the same team.

“We’re just going out there and competing,” Janis said. “I’m going to cheer for him if he makes a good play and he’s going to cheer for me if I make a good play. That’s just how it is.”

Janis arrived in Green Bay earlier this week and caught some passes from Rodgers, who was here as part of the veterans’ offseason workout program.

“We kind of have a connection because Ruvell Martin from my school (Saginaw Valley State) and him were good pals when he played here,” Janis said. “So, we’ve kind of talked about that for a little bit. He’s a cool guy.”

Among the rookie receivers, the greatest expectations fall on Adams because of his high draft status. But he doesn’t seem bothered by the pressure.

“I’m confident in my abilities, that’s why I’m here,” Adams said without a hint of cockiness in his voice. “It’s up to me how good I’m going to get. I just have to keep pushing myself.”

Adams sounds sincere when he says he is enjoying the small-town, football-oriented atmosphere in Green Bay.

“It’s just a beautiful place,” he said. “It’s a lot different than where I come from. It’s a lot of legacy and history that goes into this and pride from this town.

“(I) couldn’t be in a better place.”

mvandermause@greenbaypressgazette.com and follow him on Twitter @MikeVandermause

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