GREEN BAY — Davante Adams hasn’t forgotten how hard it is to be a rookie receiver for the Green Bay Packers.
He may be the team’s No. 1 wideout these days, but four years ago, he was in the same spot J’Mon Moore, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown are this summer.
“The biggest challenge is not being fully comfortable in the offense yet and not knowing where you fit in, what’s your assignment, whatever it is,” Adams said Monday, recalling his rookie training camp in 2014. “Coming from being a big fish in a small pond to being a small fish in a big pond – a really big pond – is a little bit of a transition.
“The biggest thing you’ve got to do if you want to stay around here for a long time is, you can’t make the same mistake a bunch of times. … I’m not a coach or anybody’s dad, but I’m going to get on them just because I care about the guys.”
While former UW-Whitewater star Jake Kumerow has put on a clinic during the first 11 days of camp on how to make an impression – on his coaches, his quarterback, just about anyone who’s been at Ray Nitscheke Field – the team’s three rookie wide receivers have been inconsistent. Each of them has flashed, but none has shown the consistency that quarterback Aaron Rodgers demands from his would-be pass-catchers.
Perhaps that’s why Rodgers has gone out of his way to praise Kumerow, who spent 2015 and 2016 on the Cincinnati Bengals’ practice squad and was on the New England Patriots’ and Packers’ practice squads last year but entered the league in a far humbler manner than the three draft picks.
“Jake Kumerow is undrafted. And we drafted three guys,” Rodgers said late last week. “If you’re playing (a game) today, you’d like him on the field.”
The implication there is that, as they showed during Saturday night’s Family Night practice at Lambeau Field, Moore, Valdes-Scantling and St. Brown aren’t quite ready for that.
Moore, for example, had a gorgeous leaping touchdown catch on a fade from Brett Hundley late in practice during a team period, but he also had at least one drop earlier. Valdes-Scantling closed out Monday’s practice with a leaping touchdown catch over Demetri Goodson, two days after dropping what should have been a Hail Mary touchdown pass from Rodgers at the end of Family Night.
“That’s really a coaching point there – make sure you’re consistent, be the same guy every day. And making plays – whether it’s catching a deep ball over somebody or catching it going up the sidelines,” Adams said. “Stuff like that (is) just the small pieces that fit together and end up being a big masterpiece.”
Offensive coordinator Joe Philbin have seen some of the same flashes Adams has. But when asked last week what he’s learned about his three rookie wide receivers so far, Philbin’s response was telling.
“They’re rookies,” Philbin replied with a wry smile. “That’s one thing (we’ve learned).”
Philbin then explained how daunting the process of installing the playbook can be on rookie receivers, and that his hope was for them to be able to play with greater freedom and confidence once games began.
“I expect to see some real improvement and some real development here these next couple days. Not that they haven’t improved, it’s just that there’s a lot of information on their plate at this point in time,” Philbin said. “But all three of them love to compete. They’re not bashful in any way, shape or form. They all have confidence in their abilities. So now, it’s just kind of getting them enough experience, exposure and chances to evaluate them further.”
Adams said he hopes the experience of Family Night gave the three rookie receivers a taste of what they’ll experience Thursday night in the preseason opener against the Tennessee Titans at Lambeau Field. While all three played at major FBS schools – St. Brown at Notre Dame, Moore at Missouri and Valdes-Scantling at South Florida – one of the most iconic stadiums in the NFL with a sellout crowd cheering during a practice was a new experience.
“I needed to get out there in that stadium under the lights getting a feel for it before the preseason game,” Moore said. “I’m happy I was able to go out there and now I’m ready to move forward.
“I’m going to grind, put my head down and keep pushing. We’ll see what happens. We have the preseason games coming up. We’ll keep it rolling. Now, I know what to expect and take the next step forward.”
Added Valdes-Scantling: “I just try to be even-keeled. There are going to be highs and lows but you never want to get too high, never want to get too low. You’ve got to come in and you’ve got to play your role.
“Football’s football, no matter how long you’ve been playing. It’s just being able to understand what defenses are trying to do. It’s the little details and finding out how to be you.”