BOCA RATON, Fla. – Davante Adams seemed positioned to assume a major role in the Green Bay Packers’ offense last season. He was the logical choice to fill the void when star wide receiver Jordy Nelson was lost to a season-ending knee injury.
Those hopes went off the rails when Adams suffered a sprained ankle in Week 3 against Kansas City. He missed three games and appeared tentative after he returned. Adams finished with a lackluster 50 catches for 483 yards (9.7 average) and one touchdown.
Call it a case of the second-season blues. Packers coach Mike McCarthy cited the difficulties that NFL players often encounter during their sophomore year when discussing Adams at the NFL owners meetings Wednesday.
“No. 1, he’s got to get himself ready to endure a long season,” McCarthy said of the challenges facing Adams. “Every young player goes through it, and that second year is always the toughest.”
In Adams’ case, McCarthy noted that with Nelson out, Adams suddenly was finding himself matched up against opponents’ top cornerbacks.
“You look at his rookie year, he was drawing the third guy a lot of the time and had a lot of success,” McCarthy said. “Now you get out there and you’re drawing the first or second guy, it’s a different battle."
But McCarthy still sees big potential in the 6-foot-1, 215-pound receiver who was a second-round selection out of Fresno State in the 2014 draft.
“He has it in his body, he has it in his heart and I look for him to come back in better shape than ever,” McCarthy said. “Work ethic and everything needs to go, the understanding of the position, understanding as far as the relationship with the quarterback. I look for him to take that next step and I have all the confidence that he will.”
McCarthy drew parallels between Adams and second-year tight end Richard Rodgers, who also took a step back after a promising rookie season. Other than his game-winning Hail Mary catch Dec. 3 to beat Detroit, Rodgers underwhelmed with 58 receptions for a pedestrian 8.8-yard average.
“They both had similar years as far as their performance, and it’s that challenge of the second year," McCarthy said. "You always talk about a guy taking that jump from the first year to the second year, but with that it’s even a bigger challenge when their responsibility is increased,too. Both of those guys have a lot more responsibility, Richard and Davante last year, and so they met tougher challenges and they’ll be better next year for it.”