Production down, but Adams' confidence remains high
Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb don't need to tell Davante Adams his catches will come.
Given the structure of the offense, the Green Bay Packers rookie receiver knows every game presents a fresh set of opportunities – even that hasn't been the case over the past month.
Adams seemed to be on the verge of a breakout after catching six passes for 121 yards against New England on Nov. 30. Instead, he caught only four passes for 29 yards in four December games.
The second-round pick wasn't targeted in the Packers' regular-season finale against Detroit, the first time since the opener in Seattle he finished a game without a catch.
"It's not even something we've talked about a whole lot," Adams said. "They don't have to remind me that the ball is going to come or things like that because I'm a man. I don't need people to tell me, 'It's OK. You're going to get more balls later on in your career.' I'm going to run my route and I'm going to get open. If the ball is coming, I'm going to catch it."
Three of Adams' four drops came during the final stretch of the season, according to Pro Football Focus. With the offense struggling to move the ball through the air against Buffalo on Dec. 14, there were two times when Adams couldn't hold to passes that would have converted third downs.
Adams is keeping his head up. After all, there have been plenty of positives. He finished the regular season with 38 catches for 446 yards and three touchdowns, which marked the most production the Packers have received from a rookie since James Jones in 2007 (47 catches for 676 yards and two touchdowns).
With opposing defenses likely cuing in on Nelson and Cobb, the offense will need its complementary players to produce in the postseason. Adams understands what's at stake. That's why his teammates have confidence the rookie will be ready if called upon.
It could come as early as Sunday's divisional-round playoff game against the Dallas Cowboys.
"We've talked to him a little bit, but that's the process of a rookie," said Nelson, who finished the regular season as the first Packers receiver to record 1,500 receiving yards in a single season. "We continue to tell him he has to continue to work and be ready to make those plays because there could be a game like New England and all of a sudden he's going to get those opportunities like he did in New England and make the most of them and help us win a game.
"He just has to continue to grind it and know it's part of what he's going through right now. He'll get better, but when he gets that opportunity, he has to make that play and everything will build off of that."
-- firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @WesHod.