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Davante Adams Faces Difficult Conditions, Muffs Two Punts in Debut

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Davante Adams Faces Difficult Conditions, Muffs Two Punts in Debut

Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy described the weather condition in his team's preseason opener Saturday evening against the Tennessee Titans as "outstanding."

McCarthy firmly believes the adversity his young players faced in their first exhibition game will serve as a learning experience, knowing the game of football is often played in less-than-ideal climates and environments.

"We knew ball security was going to be a challenge," said McCarthy. "We probably didn't do quite as good as we would have liked there, obviously with the number of times we had the ball on the ground and the number of drops."

All told, the Packers muffed four special teams return attempts on the night, two of the coming from second round draft choice Davante Adams.

It was perhaps surprising to see Adams dropping back to return punts in Nashville. During his time in college, he had a grand total of two punt returns at Fresno State.

Even during the first two weeks of traininig camp, Adams was not regularly part of the punt return rotation taking repetitions during practice. Most of those went to Micah Hyde, Randall Cobb, Tramon Williams, Kevin Dorsey and the now-injured Jared Abbrederis.

"It's just our thinking," said McCarthy. "Once again, you're trying to give as many players as many opportunities as possible. You never go into any season with just one person at a position. You can never be deep enough."

So backwards Adams drifted on fourth downs during the first quarter Saturday evening with the first-string punt return unit in monsoon-like conditions, rain pouring from the sky.

After the Packers defense forced a three-and-out on the Titans' first drive of the game, Adams' initial opportunity at a punt return was dropped, although he recovered in time to take the ball eight yards upfield.

On Adams' second chance, he wasn't as lucky. Backed up to the 10-yard line, the rookie failed to cradle the football and the Titans recovered, gaining possession of the football in the red zone.

The Titans capitalized on the mistake, scoring a 13-yard touchdown on a run by Shonn Greene just one play later to pull within 7-6 of the Packers; the extra point missed.

Perhaps Adams and the coaching staff didn't care about the consequences in a preseason game. Maybe the coaches were more interested in seeing how their talented draft pick would fare in unfavorable conditions.

Considering the circumstances, however, a combination of the weather and being backed up deep in his own territory, perhaps Adams' best course of action would have been to simply allow the ball to roll. Maybe it would reach the end zone for a touchback, but at minimum, at least the team doesn't suffer a turnover.

"Obviously, they understand," said Adams of the coaches. "They see the conditions, and obviously they're not going to be excited if the ball is on the ground regardless. But they're not naïve to the fact that it's the hardest rain in the world going on. You've just got to do the best you can with it and come up with those."

To his credit, Adams performed admirably on offense, receiving playing time primarily with the second-string offense.

Adams caught two passes, one from Matt Flynn for nine yards and another from Scott Tolzien for 13 yards and a first down as the offense was trying to move the ball down the field in a two-minute situation at the end of the first half.

While still a work in progress on special teams, Adams can still feel good about his play at wide receiver, where he's expected to make his biggest contributions.

Up next is the Packers' second preseason game on Saturday against the St. Louis Rams, and likely the opportunity to work with Aaron Rodgers in a game for the first time, after the veteran quarterback sat out of the Titans game as a precaution.

"I came in at a good spot, and I felt good going into it," said Adams. "It started raining, and you started thinking, 'Okay, we got to make sure we take care of what we can.' And it gets pretty hard to throw the rock when you get that much rain.

"I think we did a pretty good job with it. Obviously it didn't end up how we wanted it to end. Even with it being the preseason, we've got a lot of competitors on this team that don't want to lose regardless. Just going to build on it and come back ready for St. Louis."

Brian Carriveau is the author of the book "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor at Cheesehead TV and its "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email carriveau@uwalumni.com.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (9) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Clay Zombo's picture

I don't know man. I like to think its a coaches job to build the confidence of its players, not destroy their confidence by putting them in impossible situations.

I mean, how much more unprepared for that job could he have been, with almost no practice at it and in those conditions? Not only did he lose confidence in himself im sure. he also lost the confidence of the fans his teammates and his coaches most likely.

They set him up to make a terrible first impression and it worked, I hope they are happy.

Stroh's picture

First from what I read he has done some PR in practice. Beyond that, the coaches want to find out how guys will react to adversity. As a PR at least, he didn't react too well, so I doubt we'll see him on returns much more. But if dropping a few punts in inclement weather ruins his confidence either on future PR or as a WR, then he doesn't belong in the NFL anyway.

McCarthy from what I heard was happy about the weather. It gave the coaches to chance to find out who can handle adversity and still perform. And it provides a great learning tool. A lot of players do well when not stressed but NFL players need to be able to respond and perform as well or better when under stress. I think they find that to be a meaningful experience for the players and a coaching opportunity for the coaches.

Clay Zombo's picture

Im all for putting some stress on a player and seeing how they respond to adversity but to put Adams in that position in his first real game experience in the NFL is not a formula for success imo.

Its unfair to judge him as a PR based off those two punt returns is my point, even the sure handed Hyde put one on the ground. So if that is the last we see of him as a PR something is wrong with the thought process on that. He deserves another chance to redeem himself in conditions that are more suitable for success.

Stroh's picture

Adams was told a couple days before the game that he would get the first opportunity on PR. So he did have a chance to get himself ready for it. I have to think in the limited chances he had in practice, that he must have showed good enough hands that the Packers considered him a viable option. To be honest, I wouldn't mind seeing him on PR. But he'll have to rebound from this experience. It might have been a bit of a downer, but at the same time something he can really learn from. If this ruins his confidence either on PR or as a WR, he has nothing to offer in the NFL.

RC Packer Fan's picture

Yeah I agree with what you are saying. It is unfair to judge Adams based on the conditions. Also I would like to see him get more reps in practice. I'm not sure how many reps he has gotten there but I don't recall seeing him getting reps while watching my the live blog here during practices.

johnnyd17's picture

better he fumbles or muffs during almost meaningless pre-season than during real games as Jeremy Ross was doing, now, Ross looks to be the good kick return guy the Packers coaches thought he could be only for the Lions...

Imma Fubared's picture

This ain't the powder puff league. If MM was so grateful for the rain why the hell doesn't he practice in it.
You only get 4 games to evaluate talent and he lost one of three ops having a sloppy field that told him little.
I bet money Mr Adams drops a lot of dry balls as well. The analyst said his numers were only impressive because he caught a lot of short passes out of the spread. Something he will not see in the NFL.

PackerBacker's picture

Because in practice he's worried about installing the playbook and making sure everyone knows where they are supposed to be. That's harder to do in inclement weather.
But in a game setting? Tee it up.

Stroh's picture

"I bet money Mr Adams drops a lot of dry balls as well."

So you think upon learning in practice that Adams drops a lot of punts, that they would put him back on returns in games? You have to be increcibly dumb to make that statement! Juding by your history, the question of your intelligence has been answered over and over and over again.

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