Adams excited about offense with Cobb in the fold
Davante Adams knew his wasn't the only message left on Randall Cobb's phone when the news first broke.
The Green Bay Packers' second-year receiver could only imagine the amount of calls and texts that poured in after Cobb agreed on a four-year, $40 million contract that would keep him in Green Bay through the 2018 season.
It didn't matter whether Cobb heard the message or not. Adams was too excited not to share his jubilation with his fellow receiver. One of the NFL's most dynamic offenses was keeping its spark plug.
"As soon as I found out, I hit him up," Adams said Tuesday. "I was like, 'I know your phone is going crazy right now, but just hit me when you get the time, and we'll talk and rap about this whole situation.'"
That situation was the Packers returning a central component to a prestigious receiving corps. In 2014, Cobb and Jordy Nelson became the first duo in NFL history to both register 90-plus receptions, 1,200-plus receiving yards and 12-plus touchdowns in the same season.
The duo also helped mentor Adams, a second-round draft pick out of Fresno State whose production helped replace James Jones on the outside. The Packers started with Jarrett Boykin in that role, but a groin injury and dip in production made it apparent Adams needed to fill that void immediately.
Adams was up to the challenge, catching 38 passes for 446 yards and three touchdowns in 16 games (11 starts) despite not turning 22 years old until Christmas Eve. He endured a tough stretch in December (four catches for 29 yards), but responded with seven catches for 117 yards and a touchdown in the Packers' 26-21 playoff win over the Dallas Cowboys.
When everything is clicking, there's no easy way to take away all of the Packers' offensive weapons. You have a two-time MVP quarterback in Aaron Rodgers with a litany of receiving options at his disposal. During Adams' two biggest games last season against New England and Dallas, the teams left him in single coverage in an attempt to contain Nelson and Cobb.
It didn't work. His six catches for 121 yards against New England on Nov. 30 went a long way in Green Bay handing the Patriots a 26-21 defeat. New England didn't lose another game the rest of the season.
"With (Cobb) in the slot, they can't double-team Jordy," Adams said. "They can't double-team me and vice versa with anybody because we all have the confidence and the ability to tear defenses up. When I heard he was back, I'm just thinking about getting a ring. I get to play beside two Pro Bowl wideouts who make me better every day."
Adams isn't making any lofty goals or proclamations about what's in store for season two. The 6-foot-1, 215-pounder wants to continue exploiting mismatches when they present themselves and capitalizing on passes that come his way.
What's different from a year ago at this time? "Everything," Adams said chuckling, but most of it boils down to his knowledge of the Packers' complex no-huddle scheme and shaking off rookie jitters.
Like Nelson and Cobb, Adams has started to move into a leadership role this offseason. The Packers are deep, but also young at the position with Myles White (seven games) and Jeff Janis (two games) representing the only other receivers on the roster with NFL in-game experience.
Cobb noticed that many of the mental errors Adams made in his first organized team activities have subsided in his second go-around. As Nelson rehabs from offseason hip surgery, Adams has had a chance to show his progress with the first-team offense during the two practices open to the public.
Adams starred in Tuesday's no-huddle period, grabbing four of the seven passes Rodgers threw on the drive.
"He looks a lot more comfortable as far as knowing what to do. That's the biggest thing," Cobb said. "He's a natural talent. He has abilities that a lot of people in this room don't have. Now that you see him with the understanding of the offense, you see him more comfortable and able to make plays in different ways."
The numbers aren't important to Adams. If healthy, he knows his Pro Bowl teammates are going to get their targets. "(If) I can go for a 100 and if Jordy goes for 200, I'm fine with that," he quipped.
Cobb falls in line with that mindset. He felt the burden of a contract year distracted him during his slow start to the 2014 season. His only goal after signing a lucrative extension is to "release pressure and focus on everything" he can do to get the Packers back to the Super Bowl.
So far, Cobb feels he's doing a pretty good job of that.
"That pressure is released, I don't have to worry about those things," Cobb said. "I can focus on continuing to work on my craft and do different things and just get better."
Adams' job is to develop into a trusted target for Rodgers and he was fairly reliable as a rookie, though Pro Football Focus had him for four drops on 62 targets. Boykin was not offered a contract in the offseason, so the No. 3 job remains solely in Adams' possession despite the selection of Stanford's Ty Montgomery in the third round.
The only thing coach Mike McCarthy expects is for Adams to make the same Year 1 to Year 2 jump young players like Eddie Lacy and Mike Daniels have made in recent years. To Adams, his current situation brings back memories of Fresno State.
Coming off a 1,300-yard season as a redshirt freshman, he parlayed that early confidence into 131 catches for 1,718 yards and 24 touchdowns as a sophomore in 2013. The performance instantly placed him on the NFL radar.
Adams isn't predicting a 1,500-yard campaign like Nelson accomplished last season, but sees growth in his game. Gaining the faith and respect of a "future yellow jacket" like Rodgers doesn't hurt, either.
If Rodgers ever is going to claim a Pro Football Hall of Fame bust or another Super Bowl title, he'll need the right receivers to help him. Right now, the Packers have his top three options signed through the 2017 season.
For that reason, Adams is excited about what the future holds for the NFL's highest-scoring offense and his place in it.
"I just want to keep elevating my game," Adams said. "I see a lot of guys around this locker room who have done some big things. I just want to be like that and take it to an even higher level, and keep pushing myself to make sure I do what I have to do so I can be remembered like them."
— firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @WesHod.
Randall Cobb (2012): 80 catches for 954 yards, 8 touchdowns
Greg Jennings (2007): 53 catches for 920 yards, 12 touchdowns
Jermichael Finley (2009): 55 catches for 676 yards, 5 touchdowns
Jordy Nelson (2009): 22 catches for 320 yards, 2 touchdowns
James Jones (2008): 20 catches for 274 yards, 1 touchdown (10 games)