Packers' Davante Adams expects 'a lot of barking' in clash with Rams corner Jalen Ramsey
GREEN BAY - Even if Davante Adams pays a little more attention to his opponent this week than most, the Green Bay Packers receiver doesn't plan on changing his approach.
In any week, Adams focuses more on his strengths than his matchup. That this week's matchup is Los Angeles Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey doesn't change anything, Adams said. Ramsey, an All-Pro, might be the NFL's top cover corner, but Adams said that won't deter him from his plan.
"I respect Jalen's game," Adams said. "He's at the top of the list, for sure. I think there's probably three or four super elite – is what I like to call them – corners, and he's definitely one of those guys. He's been playing at a high level, got great confidence. Does a lot of barking, which feeds into his confidence more. And he's made a lot of plays. He's definitely earned that. He's a good player."
The Packers are uncertain how much Ramsey will match up against Adams. Ramsey will follow an offense's best receiver to either perimeter of the field, but he rarely dips inside to the slot.
Adams lines up anywhere on the field, including the slot.
"The Rams have a dynamic, dynamic player in Jalen," quarterback Aaron Rodgers said, "but they have been playing a lot more two-shell. So I don't know how much mano a mano is going to be out there. I'm sure there's going to be some opportunities, and he is super talented."
To find a favorable matchup, the Packers could line up Adams in the slot more often Saturday in hopes of avoiding Ramsey. Still, the two All-Pros are sure to find each other on the field at some point.
Adams said he's looking forward to the matchup.
"With Jalen," Adams said, "I don't know how much talking is going to happen. Honestly, I don't see a whole lot of talking. It'll probably get a little chippy every now and then, but I've got respect for him. I'm sure based on our conversations we've had before, he's got respect for me. So it won't be no disrespect or stuff going on out there, but it will probably get heated."
Last weekend, Jared Veldheer started at left tackle for the Indianapolis Colts as a practice squad elevation in their wild-card loss to the Buffalo Bills. Veldheer came out of retirement (again – his first time being late last season when he joined the Packers) to shore up the tackle position for the Colts.
Two days later, Veldheer headed north to Green Bay to sign with the Packers and provide depth at tackle with left tackle David Bakhtiari on injured reserve. Veldheer was able to practice right away Tuesday because he was going through daily COVID-19 testing with the Colts before his arrival.
After Veldheer’s first practice with the team, center Corey Linsley said he thought the 33-year-old tackle looked good. Literally.
“He looks dreamy,” Linsley said. “He’s spectacular, just a pleasure to be around. He actually texted Billy (Turner), Lucas (Patrick) and I that … I forgot what he said… 'I’ll see you guys tomorrow' or something. We were all pretty excited about that, had some friendly banter and we’re excited to have him back.
“He’s a great dude, great add to the O-line room, and it was fun to have him around last year and get to know him and it’s kind of crazy that he was playing in another game for another team what three or four days ago.”
Veldheer lined up at right tackle twice last season for the Packers, once in Week 17 against the Detroit Lions and once in the divisional-round against the Seattle Seahawks. Starting right tackle Bryan Bulaga sustained a concussion against the Lions and fell ill before the divisional round, allowing Veldheer to step in and play.
Now, the Packers need help on the left side. Before Tuesday’s practice, head coach Matt LaFleur wouldn’t rush to heap high expectations on Veldheer as the Packers look to take on defensive tackle Aaron Donald and the Rams' defensive front.
“I think we just have to kind of wait and see just how much recall he has from last year and what’s interesting is he just played in a game this weekend but with a totally different offense,” LaFleur said. “We’ll try to get him acclimated and welcome him back as quickly as possible but as far as what the expectations are, that remains to be seen.”
If Veldheer plays, he will become the first player in NFL history to compete for two teams in the same postseason. Veldheer sliding in at left tackle would likely move Billy Turner back to right guard and allow Rick Wagner to stay at right tackle if he’s healthy enough to play.
Practice and injury updates
The benefits of the Packers’ first-round bye were most simply stated on the first injury report of the week ahead of their divisional-round game against the Rams.
Only seven players were listed on Tuesday’s injury report and only one player did not participate – defensive lineman Kingsley Keke, who has been in concussion protocol since Week 17 against the Tennessee Titans.
Adams, Wagner and outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith, who each missed portions of the bye-week practices, participated Tuesday. Smith and Wagner were listed as limited participants with ankle/thumb and knee injuries, respectively.
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Cornerback Kevin King (Achilles), wide receiver Allen Lazard (core/wrist), tight end Marcedes Lewis (knee) and wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown (knee/ankle) were also listed as limited participants. Guard Simon Stepaniak, who was recently signed to the 53-man roster after spending the majority of the season on the non-football injury list recovering from a torn ACL, was placed on injured reserve and was not present at practice.
The Rams, however, did not have the luxury of a first-round bye and are feeling the effects of Saturday’s game against the Seattle Seahawks. They held a walkthrough on Tuesday, so player participation on the injury report is an estimation. Defensive tackle Aaron Donald (ribs), wide receiver Cooper Kupp (knee) and backup quarterback John Wolford (stinger) would have been non-participants in practice.
Starting quarterback Jared Goff (right thumb) would’ve been a full participant in practice.
When LaFleur spent a season as the Rams' offensive coordinator in 2017, he was safely separated from all-world defensive tackle Aaron Donald.
LaFleur finds himself in a very different situation this week. Now he's devising a game plan around stopping a player he watched up close in practice for a full year. LaFleur would have spoken credibility to any opponent this week. With Donald, a six-time All-Pro regarded as perhaps the best defensive player in the NFL, there is no hyperbole.
"He's a once-in-a-lifetime-type player," LaFleur said. "Being there with him, I don't think you truly appreciate him until you start game planning against him. I mean, this guy is dynamic. I think (Rams defensive coordinator) Brandon Staley and his staff do a phenomenal job at just moving him all over the place, so it's hard to get a bead on exactly where he's gonna be, but he's somebody that we're well aware of where he's gonna be. We have to be well aware of where he ends up and make sure we communicate well and account for him at all times, because he's a guy that can totally disrupt and impact."