GREEN BAY – Before getting a late start, Davante Adams got a head start.
The Green Bay Packers rookie second-round draft pick didn’t arrive in town until Thursday – while the rest of the draft picks and undrafted free agent signees arrived on Sunday, took physicals on Monday and were was able to work out with the team’s veteran players on Tuesday and Wednesday – because of Fresno State’s academic calendar. Adams, who came out after his redshirt sophomore season, was prohibited by NFL rules from participating in any of the Packers’ on-field work because Fresno State classes were still in session.
But while Adams wasn’t able to take part in the individual position workouts with his new teammates, he did get something most of them didn’t.
Aaron Rodgers’ phone number.
Adams asked wide receivers coach Edgar Bennett for Rodgers’ number right after the Packers chose him with the No. 53 overall pick in the NFL Draft. Bennett obliged, and
“I told him, ‘I’m ready to work,’” Adams said.
And Rodgers’ response? “He said, ‘There’s no reason that you shouldn’t be able to get going right away with this. Just pick up on everything you can and we’ll get you up to speed.’”
That’s exactly what Adams did during the rookie orientation camp, where 58 draft picks, undrafted rookie signees, tryout players and practice-squad holdovers took part in a pair of practices. But when the players were given Sunday off, Adams delved into his iPad playbook rather than spending the day exploring his new town.
“I’ve been so much about my job since I’ve been here, I haven’t even had time to really check Green Bay out,” said Adams, who is staying at a local hotel with the rest of the rookies and did not rent a car for the week, relying on the team’s transportation service to get to and from Lambeau Field. “I’m sure I’ll be able to find something to do here in due time. But for right now, it’s all about my job, and we’ll explore Green Bay a little bit later.
“I need to look into the depth of this whole playbook, because we’ve only been exposed to about 20 percent of the offense. That’s what coach Bennett told me. It’s time for me to look deeper, just making sure I’m up to speed, because the game’s not going to wait for me.”
Although the Packers return four wide receivers who caught at least one pass for them last season – Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Jarrett Boykin and Myles White – the position is no longer as loaded as it was in 2012, when Boykin, an undrafted free agent, made the roster as the sixth receiver. While the Packers took two more receivers later in the draft – Wisconsin’s Jared Abbrederis in the fifth round and Saginaw Valley State’s Jeff Janis in the seventh – it’s Adams who’s expected to make an immediate impact after catching an astounding 233 passes with 38 touchdowns over his two collegiate seasons.
“We felt like he was a complete player,” Bennett said following the draft. “When you turn the tape on, you see a guy getting open. You see a guy at the top of the route creating separation, creating windows for the quarterback to throw the ball in. And when there is a situation where it’s tighter, more of a competitive-type throw, you see a guy with strong hands and physicality that can go up and make a play, make the tough catch.”
Adams said that while the Packers’ offensive system is vastly different than the one he was in at Fresno State, there is one similarity: At the line of scrimmage, Bulldogs quarterback Derek Carr had the freedom to make changes to the play – something Adams’ new phone-a-friend does with regularity, too.
Of course, to start working on that with Rodgers, he’ll have to be on the same field with him – and that’ll happen this week, as IPWs continue for the veterans and Adams will be able to work with Rodgers directly. Plays are run against air in IPWs, though, so it won’t be until organized team activity practices kick off the following week that Adams will be in a competitive situation with his new quarterback.
In the meantime, Adams hasn’t just been in touch with Rodgers. He also got the numbers of the other wide receivers and has been texting with Cobb, Boykin and Nelson, whom he met in person for the first time on Friday.
Their message? We’re counting on you.
“They told me they’re going to help me get up to speed with everything,” Adams said, “and there’s no reason why I shouldn’t be a contributing factor early on.”
Listen to Jason Wilde every weekday from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. on “Green & Gold Today,” and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/jasonjwilde.