Green Bay — In the last two seasons alone, Davon House has lined up across from Atlanta’s Julio Jones and Houston’s DeAndre Hopkins. House has battled Indianapolis’ T.Y. Hilton, Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans and New England’s Julian Edelman.
But House — who’s vying to become Green Bay’s No. 1 cornerback this season — recently turned some heads with this statement.
“The day I can stop Davante every single time, that’s when I’m the guy,” House said. “Until then, I’ve still got a lot of room to improve.”
Davante Adams? The new benchmark for at least one cornerback?
You better believe it.
Over the past quarter century, the wide receiver torch in Green Bay has passed from Sterling Sharpe to Antonio Freeman, then to Donald Driver and now Jordy Nelson. Perhaps it’s Adams’ turn to become the lead dog.
Adams, just 24, is coming off of a breakout third season. Adams is in the best physical shape of his life. And with full health and a complete grasp of the offense, Adams seems poised to become Green Bay’s next great receiver.
“He’s so sudden and so quick, it’s ridiculous,” House said of Adams. “With players like that, it’s hard to stop them. I’m still trying to find a way.
“I’m asking him all the time, ‘What did I do wrong? What can I do better? What gives you problems?’ When I play against people like (San Diego’s) Keenan Allen and guys like that, I’m going to refer to the notes I took with Davante. ‘This is what I need to do.’ ”
Just 20 months ago, Adams was left for dead in many circles. After Nelson went down with a season-ending knee injury in 2015, Adams was expected to fill the void.
Instead, an ankle injury that later required surgery, and inconsistency led to a miserable campaign. Adams averaged just 9.7 yards on his 50 receptions, had only one touchdown, and dropped 12 of 96 passes thrown to him (12.5%).
Through it all, Adams insisted things would be different when he was healthy. The thing is, not many people believed him.
“One word is resilience,” Adams said. “I feel like sometimes you’ve got to go through things, and like I told you guys, once I’m healthy I feel like I can play with whoever. So I wasn’t just talking obviously. I showed you guys.”
Adams showed the entire league in 2016, finishing second on the Packers in receptions (75) and receiving yards (997), and tying for second in the NFL with 12 touchdown catches. Adams then caught 13 passes for 201 yards and a touchdown in Green Bay’s first two postseason games, before a bum ankle slowed him in the NFC Championship Game.
This summer, Adams has been even better. And it certainly appears like he’s only scratched the surface.
Day in and day out, Adams has shined on the practice field. On the first day of training camp, Adams lit up cornerback LaDarius Gunter for a 65-yard touchdown. And his assault on Green Bay’s secondary hasn’t stopped.
Slants. Go routes. Post corners. Sluggos.
Adams has run the full route tree with aplomb, which has to have the Packers salivating as they devise ways to get him the football.
“Davante Adams made a huge jump, I think in a number of things,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said of Adams earlier this off-season. “I think he’d be the first to tell you that the injuries that he fought through in Year 2, he was definitely much healthier in Year 3. A complete understanding of all the positions, obviously an advancement in the route running and the time clock coordinating between him and Aaron Rodgers was definitely much better last year.
“Frankly, I thought we did a much better job creating opportunities for him last year not only as the No. 1 receiver, but also as the No. 2 and No. 3 hole as far as formation and alignment. So increased opportunities, he cashed in on it.”
Adams returned this spring in arguably the best shape of his life. The 6-foot-1, 215-pound Adams didn’t lose weight in the off-season, but he ate much better and appears leaner.
Adams also raves about a meal delivery service called “Plated” that he joined.
“It’s pretty good food,” Adams said. “They send out the ingredients and my lady cheffed it all up.”
Adams spent much of his off-season studying receivers like Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown, Cincinnati’s A.J. Green, Seattle’s Doug Baldwin, Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald and Atlanta’s Jones, looking for the smallest detail to help him improve. Adams also admits he’s never felt better on a football field — both mentally and physically — than he has this summer.
“The older you get and the more you know what you’re doing, you’re going to be able to play without worrying about anything and just have that flow in-game,” Adams said. “And being in the league going on four years, my game is maturing even more and I’m learning more from other guys around the league.”
Adams is still bothered after falling three yards short of 1,000 last year.
“I kind of get pissed off about it,” he said.
And Adams will undoubtedly be motivated to perform well in a contract year.
Add it all up, and 2017 could be a memorable one for a player many had buried in January 2016.
“I just want to make my film look as beautiful as possible and then if that comes with 2,000 yards, 1,000 yards, I’ll be happy,” Adams said. “Last year was just scratching the surface. As long as I stay healthy now, I can do some great things.”
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