Davante Adams' defection hits hard for Packers receivers coach Jason Vrable
GREEN BAY - It may take a while for the Green Bay Packers to adjust to life after Davante Adams. For receivers coach Jason Vrable, that loss is even more acute.
“It was tough, I’m not gonna lie,” Vrable said Tuesday of the night he learned Adams was being traded to the Las Vegas Raiders.
“I was blessed to have him for three years. I think you guys, you know, watching him for over those eight years, you've seen the growth of him as a player and as a man. Never want to let that guy out of the building if we had the choice, but you know, the contract was up.”
Adams was at the end of his contract and the Packers placed the franchise tag on the veteran receiver March 8. The two sides worked to reach a long-term deal, and the Packers even exceeded the Raiders' contract offer. But Adams let it be known he wanted to play on a new team with his old friend, quarterback Derek Carr.
So Adams went to the AFC and the Packers received first- and second-round picks in the upcoming NFL draft in return. Despite honoring Adams' wishes, Vrable admitted the process wasn’t easy for the coaching staff.
“Love the guy and it was hard. It was a hard evening,” Vrable said.
Despite Adams now playing out west, Vrable said he and the receiver will stay close.
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“We still talked up to this point, here and there like, just about the transition and like I said, nothing but good things to say about the guy, since he's been here. Everything you want in a player and a guy,” Vrable said.
“I like to think that we'll be friends for a long time, but in a different building now.”
The plan at kicker … for now
As the roster stands, the Packers are carrying three kickers: Mason Crosby, JJ Molson and Dominik Eberle.
Crosby is the longtime veteran, Molson spent last season on the practice squad as a rookie and Eberle was brought in this offseason at the request of new special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia. The plan for now, according to Bisaccia, is to evaluate all three during OTAs and summer practices.
“Just kind of see who’s who and what’s what as we get going,” Bisaccia said Tuesday. “I have’t really had a chance to see — I know two of them. I know Dom pretty well. We had him for two years over there with the Raiders. He’s a good player.
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“I’ve known Crosby for a long time. He’s had a hell of a career. I actually had him back in the (2007) Senior Bowl when he came out. One thing I know about Crosby is he’s come back after a down year to play really well so I’m excited about being around him, learning from him, seeing what his strengths are and where we can get forward to keep improving.”
Bisaccia, who was hired in February, said the Packers will likely only take two kickers into training camp this fall.
Stenavich accepts blame for playoff decision
For three games early in the 2021 regular season, Yosh Nijman stepped in on the Packers' offensive line and proved himself worthy of snaps. After the injured Elgton Jenkins returned, Nijman was regulated mostly to special teams snaps again; but then in the latter half of the season, Jenkins was hurt again and Nijman finished out four of the final five games in the regular season starting at left tackle. David Bakhtiari returned for the season finale but too much strenuous activity sidelined Bakhtiari for the NFC divisional playoff game versus the San Francisco 49ers.
Instead of Nijman moving back in the lineup, the Packers started Billy Turner at left tackle and Dennis Kelly at right tackle. Nijman played three snaps on special teams. The Packers lost 13-10.
On Tuesday, speaking to the media for the first time since the game, former Packers offensive line coach and now offensive coordinator Adam Stenavich took responsibility for the decision.
“Kind of my perspective on the whole thing was going with the most experienced, toughest, hard-nosed guys for that kind of a game,” Stenavich said. “Just the kind of game it was gonna be. I thought it was going to be a pretty good slugfest. And so that was my decision as an offensive line coach at the time and I think everyone was on board with it. It is what it is.”
Now heading into his third season with the Packers, Nijman will have a shot to be a long-term starter.
“I think Yosh is gonna get a shot at right and left tackle,” Stenavich said. “That’s I think a very important thing for him this offseason is just to take that next step forward to see if we can count on him to be a reliable starter.”
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The Packers are hoping to have Bakhtiari back. An ACL injury kept Bakhtiari out for all of the 2021 season, save the aforementioned Detroit game. This past January marked one year since Bakhtiari suffered the injury, but a set-back last fall extended his recovery time.
“He's just making sure that he's ready to go, working hard, rehabbing, doing all that stuff, working out. And yeah, he's in a good place,” Stenavich said of Bakhtiari’s recovery.
Stenavich would like to have more guys around the tackle position, but feels overall the depth across the offensive line is set for the upcoming season.
"I'm excited about our depth, to be honest with you. I think on the edges, we need a guy or two just to really shore up the tackle position. But other than that, I feel really good about the guys we have in the room and what they're all about. So it'd be fun to watch them compete this offseason and really fight for starting jobs.”