Davante Adams 'excited' about Marquez Valdes-Scantling's emerging skills
GREEN BAY - On a video call with local media, Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams was asked questions about quarterback Aaron Rodgers, third-year wideout Marquez Valdes-Scantling and the receiver group heading into a Week 1 matchup in Minnesota.
All good questions.
But what about Adams? Shouldn’t someone be checking in with him?
The 2019 season was no Garden of Eden. He suffered a turf toe injury that cost him four games in the first half of the season, and though he had three 100-yard receiving games after his return, he finished the season 3 yards short of 1,000.
The Packers made it to the NFC Championship game, where Adams caught nine passes for 138 yards, but the season took its toll on him. He said he needed to recover physically and mentally once he put down his cleats.
“The way I ended the year just based off my pain, it was obviously healed up and ready to go, doctors released me and I was good to go, but just the discomfort and the pain, I would still put it at a 70 percent toe at the end of that year,” Adams said. “There was a lot of healing that needed to still take place and just kind of rest.”
Adams is so far and above the Packers’ best receiver that having him at 70% was critical. Though Allen Lazard helped pick up some of the slack with 35 catches for 477 yards and three touchdowns, the Packers needed Adams to gut it out.
The receiver room is not much different than a year ago, which means Adams will be carrying a huge load on his shoulders again. But that’s a lot easier to do when you’re feeling good.
“I felt like I took a decent break,” Adams said. “I didn’t put any cleats on for a really long time. Still getting footwork and still making sure I was in shape, still running. But not beating it up and change of direction, a bunch of crazy stuff out the gate, which was a little bit different from my normal operation.
“Just kind of letting that thing rest and getting my mind right. Because like I said before, when I hurt my ankle back in ’15, if you let an injury linger like that, other things start to factor in. You don’t want to deal with that. I just wanted to make sure I came back 1,000% ready to go, and here we are.”
Adams should receive a lot of attention from the Minnesota Vikings in the season opener Sunday, especially given how young they are in the secondary. Coach Mike Zimmer wasn’t saying who would start, but he most likely will go with third-year pro Holton Hill and rookie Jeff Gladney outside and third-year pro Mike Hughes in the slot.
Hill has made four starts in his career, just one last season, and the oft-injured Hughes has made five starts. The three corners replace the departed veteran trio of Xavier Rhodes (Indianapolis), Trae Waynes (Cincinnati) and Mackenzie Alexander (Cincinnati).
“You know, that’s just part of NFL football,” Zimmer said. “Guys are going to move onto other teams or they’re going to retire or are you going to pick some guys and move on from them. So, that part is really not new.”
As a result, Adams expects to see either safety Anthony Harris or Harrison Smith shading over to his side much of the game. It won’t be the first time the Vikings have done that, but they also had confidence in Rhodes following him around the field and covering him one-on-one when necessary.
Still, Zimmer has made it tough on Adams at times.
“Cover 2 obviously is something I’ve seen from this defense a lot, crowding my side to try to eliminate a lot of big plays,” Adams said. “And it kind of makes us dink and dunk and go earn our points that way.
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“So, kind of a bend-but-don’t-break mentality is what I’ve seen in the past, but the way they choose to double and match up in that respect, I’m not sure how that’s going to work. But we’ll be ready and have answers.”
One response would be to isolate Valdes-Scantling with a single corner and let him use his speed to get down the field. It’s something coach Matt LaFleur is likely to do, but how often will depend on whether Valdes-Scantling makes any plays.
The second half of last year, he hardly made any and he has spent all of training camp trying to prove he can be relied upon.
“He looks the best he’s ever looked,” Adams said. “I’m excited for what’s going to come from him because I think just part of his maturation process was understanding some of the small things and how they matter and why finishing a healthy 10-yard sprint after you catch the ball or getting into the end zone, different things I kind of adopted when I first got here watching guys like Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb.
“It takes a little second for that stuff to jell and for you to fully grasp, sometimes, why it really matters.”