GREEN BAY - If third-round pick Montravius Adams misses the rest of training camp, the Green Bay Packers have enough depth to make do on the defensive line.
But based on what teammates said Monday about the talent Adams possesses and the progress he has made, the reported stress fracture in his foot will put a halt to a very promising summer project.
“His pass-rush moves are ridiculous,” veteran defensive lineman Ricky Jean Francois said. “I thought it would take him a while to adjust to the NFL and have to change from college moves to NFL moves, but I think he already adjusted.
“It’s just sad that he got hurt and he’s got to sit out a lot.”
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How long Adams will be out still is being determined. Coach Mike McCarthy said Tuesday that Adams underwent surgery and would miss "multiple weeks."
NFL Network reported that Adams suffered a stress fracture and was being seen by well-known foot specialist Robert Anderson, who is in the process of moving his practice from North Carolina to Green Bay.
The foot injury sidelines someone whom teammates spoke about as though he was the second coming of Warren Sapp. It’s rare for veterans to go out on a limb and predict instant success for a rookie, given how much unfulfilled potential they’ve seen over the course of their careers.
But the 6-4, 304-pound Adams made quite an impression on them, playing end, three-technique tackle and nose tackle.
“There’s no question in my mind he’s going to be a great player in this league,” said nose tackle Kenny Clark, a first-round pick in 2016. “The main thing I can say about ‘Mon’ is that he’s explosive. When he gets off the ball and does it right, there’s nobody who can stop him off the ball.
“Just the first two days of practice, his explosiveness, how he gets upfield, he looked real good.”
Jean Francois went even further in his evaluation of Adams. He said before the injury, he was convinced the rookie was going to be on the field rushing the passer in the Sept. 10 season opener against Seattle.
“He’s a pretty special kid,” Jean Francois said. “When third down comes up, I wouldn’t be shocked if he’s on that field. If he’s on that field, I’m betting money on him getting to that quarterback first.
“He has pass-rush moves. I just wish he could have developed his game a lot more.”
Adams was first sidelined Saturday, the third day of camp, which means he probably injured his foot in the Friday practice. He stood and watched practice Saturday, but was not in the locker room during the media period afterward.
The 93rd pick in the draft, Adams was someone the Packers thought could give them quality snaps this season, even though it’s rare for rookies to have an impact on the defensive line right away given the dramatic upgrade in offensive line talent from college to the pros.
Adams joins fifth-round pick Vince Biegel as the second defensive draft choice to be sidelined with a foot injury. Biegel is on the physically unable to perform list and still is recovering from foot surgery in May.
““I don’t think it’s time for concern; it’s the unfortunate part of the game,” McCarthy said. “When it happens to young guys, these practices are so critical for the development, especially for Year 1. And not only learning what to do and how to do it, but just how we practice, everything that goes into it. It’s just unfortunate.”
Clark said Adams would be in the meeting room with the defensive line throughout camp and would be expected to keep up with everybody else. He said he didn’t think Adams would fall behind in understanding the defense.
Where he’ll suffer is the on-field work.
“I’m like, ‘Even while you’re hurt I need you to still work on your hand moves, I still need you to work on your knowledge of the game,’” Jean Francois said. “’I still need you to look at formations and everything so when you get back you don’t feel like you’re set back.’”
In the meantime, Dean Lowry will continue to see extensive time as one of the two inside rushers in the nickel defense. He didn’t do that much last season and has been working on different pass-rush moves than he uses when playing end.
Clark has showed a strong interest in expanding his game to the three-technique position in the nickel, where there’s more freedom to rush the passer than at nose tackle. He’ll be competing with Mike Daniels, Lowry and Jean Francois for snaps there.
“I’m trying to show the coaches, show everybody that I can play that, I can be way more versatile, be way more explosive out there,” Clark said. “That’s what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to be the best nose I can be and show them that I can be versatile and do some different things.”