WR Adams impresses with Family Night highlights
Rookie receiver Ty Montgomery has been the talk of the Green Bay Packers' first week of training camp, and rightly so.
The third-round draft pick has jumped out to regular observers by making an eye-catching play or two almost every practice. General manager Ted Thompson might have hit big on that selection.
But in the Family Night scrimmage Saturday at Lambeau Field, second-year receiver Davante Adams reminded everyone that he's still on the team.
Coach Mike McCarthy had described Adams as the MVP of the team's offseason practices, but Adams then opened camp with a relatively quiet first week working as the No. 3 receiver, behind Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. That changed late in the week, when Adams made a couple of catches that drew notice, then he followed that with a good performance Saturday night.
His highlight play came during one-on-one drills pitting receivers against defensive backs. Rookie cornerback Damarious Randall had excellent coverage on a slant-and-go route, but Adams leaped over him and made a spectacular one-handed catch along the sideline. The play showed Adams' excellent body control — he got both feet down for the reception — and jumping ability (391/2-inch vertical jump at the NFL scouting combine).
Adams later displayed good route-running ability on a couple of plays. One came in the first period of team work against the Packers' best cornerback, Sam Shields. Adams ran a stutter route and got well behind Shields. Shields had safety help over the top, so he was playing leverage underneath Adams, but even with Shields' great speed there was too much ground to make up to catch Adams.
The play ended badly for the offense because Ha Ha Clinton-Dix came over from his safety position to make an excellent interception. But that doesn't negate Adams' well-run route against a good cornerback.
Adams also caught a touchdown pass during a red-zone period in which he and Randall Cobb ran a nice fake pick route. Adams was lined up far right with Cobb inside. They ran at each other like it was going to be a rub route, but as they came together they reversed field, with Adams breaking out and Cobb in.
Adams broke free of cornerback Demetri Goodson and was wide open for the short touchdown pass. Also, it's worth noting that he reached out and made the catch with his hands. While that was an easy one, that's something he does all the time. He's a hands catcher, he reaches and plucks the ball rather than waiting for it to come to him.
It's not clear how big a role the tight ends will have in coach Mike McCarthy's offense this year — that position is the one potential weak link in the offense. And if Montgomery keeps coming on, McCarthy might use four-receiver sets in lieu of a tight end more than he has in the past few seasons.
But even if Richard Rodgers lacks the speed to threaten defenses down the seam, a week into camp it sure looks like the second-year tight end will be a big part of the red-zone offense. That came through again Saturday night when Aaron Rodgers went to him on back-to-back plays in a red-zone period.
On the first, Richard Rodgers ran a corner route in the end zone but couldn't come up with the tough catch on a contested ball. On the second, Aaron Rodgers made a vintage play in which he floated to his right to create extra time for a receiver to break free, then zipped a pass to wide open Richard Rodgers just over the goal line.
The touchdown catch was easy, but the two plays suggest the Packers want to go to Richard Rodgers when the field and throwing windows shrink in the red zone. He's a big man (6-4, 257) and has long arms and good hands. That makes him an excellent red-zone target, because he can use his body to shield smaller coverage players for catches in tight spaces.
■Right tackle Don Barclay looks good in the run game, but you wonder if he still needs to gain confidence in his reconstructed knee as a pass blocker. On Saturday night, he had a little trouble holding his ground in pass protection.
On back-to-back plays in a move-the-ball period, undrafted rookie James Vaughters and then Julius Peppers beat Barclay for what probably would have been sacks of Scott Tolzien.
■Vaughters hadn't done much to stand out the first week of camp but had a good night Saturday. Along with the likely sack against Barclay, he beat starting right tackle Bryan Bulaga with an inside move on a stunt that probably would have been a sack of Rodgers in a pass-under-pressure period.
■Undrafted rookie Fabbians Ebbele was a four-year starter at Arizona and is an impressive looking tackle prospect on the hoof, but his play thus far shows why he went undrafted. He's got exceptional length — he's 6-71/2 and long armed — but he doesn't bend his knees or sink his hips, so he lacks balance and strength. And he doesn't use his arm length as a weapon.
With arms like that, he should be a solid pass blocker. But he doesn't get his hands out in front of him, so he allows pass rushers to get into his body and push him around. That showed in one-on-one drills Saturday. Datone Jones is the Packers' lightest defensive lineman at 285 pounds, but on one rush he bulled Ebbele straight back into the quarterback.
— Former football coach and player Eric Baranczyk offers his analysis of Green Bay Packers games each week. Follow him on Twitter @EricBaranczyk1
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