GREEN BAY – His swim move used to terrorize the SEC. Watch film from Montravius Adams’ senior season: games at Alabama, at Georgia, against LSU. You’ll see him ripping his tree-trunk arm past an offensive lineman, then tossing the blocker to the ground.
“That’s always been one of my moves,” Adams said.
It’s precisely what attracted the Green Bay Packers in the spring of 2017. Why they drafted Adams in the third round out of Auburn. The Packers expected Adams to develop into an interior force, rushing into the quarterback’s face.
It never happened.
Adams didn’t get to show his swim move – or much of anything – last year. He broke his foot on the second day of training camp, before the Packers were even in pads. The injury not only wiped out the rest of camp. It set Adams behind his entire rookie season.
“Last year was a big letdown for me as a person,” Adams said. “I mean, not only do I feel like I let down my team, but just myself. That’s what really hurt me.”
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So Adams didn’t sleep much Friday night, on the eve of the Packers’ first padded practice. On the field Saturday, Adams unleashed that explosive swim move that showed a glimpse of what he could become.
Three times in the Packers’ one-on-one pass-rush drill, an offensive lineman tried to stop him. Three times, Adams ripped his tree-trunk arm past the blocker, then tossed him to the ground. In a drill that usually favors the offense, Kofi Amichia, Adam Pankey and Austin Davis didn’t have a chance.
To make his mark on the league, Adams will need to do more than beat fringe roster linemen in practice. But Adams seems to have impressed coaches early in camp. He’s gotten a handful of reps on the Packers’ first-team defense, showing what he couldn’t last fall.
“A lot of things for him,” coach Mike McCarthy said, “are almost like his first year because he missed all of this last year. But the benefit from being here throughout the season in the offseason, I think he’s in much better shape. He did some really good things in the first day of pads.”
There’s a long way to go in camp, but Adams has been one of the pleasant developments through the first week. At a position that might be deepest on the Packers’ roster, Adams doesn’t need to be a primary contributor.
He might find his way into the defensive line rotation anyway.
Adams is the fifth defensive lineman behind Mike Daniels, Kenny Clark, Muhammad Wilkerson and Dean Lowry, but the Packers need all the defensive line help they can get. With unproven depth at outside linebacker, their interior pass rush will be critical.
An interior pass rush might be a niche Adams can fill.
“Montravius is a really good athlete,” Daniels said. “He’s got great explosion. He’s strong. He’s a big guy, obviously. You’re really starting to see everything come together for him. He’s definitely showing a lot of improvement from last year.
“I’m really excited for him because he missed a lot with his injury last year. You can see where having a full offseason has truly benefited him.”
Adams doesn’t want to rely solely on his swim move. His goal in camp is to diversify his pass rush. He said he expects to focus on one move each day, building his arsenal piece by piece.
But, Adams said, the biggest key will be staying healthy.
“I know as long as I’m healthy and the coaches give me an opportunity,” Adams said, “that if I’m on the field, my guys are going to trust me to make a play and I’m capable of making it. So I feel like as long as I keep learning from them, I’ll be in the right place.”