And now everyone knows what Adams learned from that experience.
“Yeah, man, they don’t need me,” Adams said Wednesday. “They don’t need me -- that’s what it boils down to.”
His quarterback respectfully disagrees.
“We need Davante,” Aaron Rodgers said when told of Adams’ self-deprecating remark.
“We always need Davante -- he’s so damn talented. I think what we learned was maybe just how damn talented he is. He’s a game-changer and he changes the way defenses play. So in the time that he was out, we saw some different types of defenses based on their respect or maybe lack of respect of the other guys we had on the squad. I think what it allowed us to do was see what we had with those other guys.”
So here are the unbeaten Packers a season later, again facing the possibility of playing without Adams. He did not practice Wednesday because of the hamstring injury that he suffered in the second of half of Sunday’s win over the Detroit Lions. A day later, coach Matt LaFleur said Adams had lobbied to reenter the game, but LaFleur held him out. Whether his decision was based more on the injury or that the Packers were up big and didn’t need Adams, either way his status for Sunday night’s game at the New Orleans Saints remained in doubt.
“It’s feeling better,” Adams said. “I think we’re making good progress every day. But we’re just going to wait it out and see. It’ll probably be a decision that’s made later in the week most likely, just to get a full assessment, give me the full amount of time I need to get right, to a real comfortable spot. Obviously, I don’t think we’re there just yet, but we’re making great strides on the way there.”
Still, what Rodgers was referring to about the way teams defend the Packers based on Adams is evident again this season. Adams tied a team record with 14 catches (for 156 yards and two touchdowns) in the season opener against Minnesota, and then the next week, the Lions shifted their coverage to try to take him away. He caught three passes for 36 yards before he dropped out. But even before the injury, Adams’ presence -– and the way the Lions focused on him -– opened things up for running back Aaron Jones and his 236-yard, three-touchdown day.
The Packers ran more plays against a loaded box (defined as at least eight defenders in the box) than any team in Week 1, allowing Adams to go wild. With so much focus on Adams by the Lions, all of Jones' Week 2 runs came with seven or fewer defenders in the box, and the Packers had the blocking advantage on 94% of his runs, the highest rate of his career, according to NFL Next Gen Stats.
“It just shows that our guys are mentally tough enough to be able to step up,” Adams said. “Obviously, having certain injuries, the things that I've had in the past, we weren't expecting that. I didn't come into the season with an injury saying, 'Hey he's probably gonna miss this amount of time,' so people don't really have ample time to get their mind right, which is such a critical thing playing in the National Football League ... And just having that adversity, me being able to experience that along with them, it's a test of character, but last year just showed that we have the right type of guys on our team.”