The Green Bay Packers had two rookie representatives joining the rest of this year’s draft class in Los Angeles this past weekend for the NFL Rookie Symposium. Those two reps were wide receiver Davante Adams of Fresno State and defensive lineman Khyri Thornton of Southern Mississippi. The Packers started organized team activities last week, and two players who needed the time in helping their transition to the pros missed out on valuable time; that of course didn’t sit well with their head coach. Both players are learning from veterans in the locker room now, and are doing their best to get comfortable soon.
Veteran receiver Jordy Nelson said this after Tuesday’s practice regarding the key thing for rookies to knock out: "It’s get the playbook down so they can just play football like they were back in college, that’s the main thing. Once they get there, football is football." Nelson was the second-round draft pick of the Packers back in 2008, and is currently in the final year of a four-year extension he signed in 2011.
Starting opposite of Nelson is Randall Cobb. Guess what? Cobb also was a second-round pick (sense a trend?) and gave some words of wisdom to pass down to this year’s second-round pick in Adams (that’s a lot of second-round picks for you).
"I think the biggest thing is to come and to just prove yourself." Cobb said. "As a second-round draft pick, everyone is looking at you and seeing how you can contribute to the team so coming in and doing the things that’s gotten you to this point and continuing to work hard and be the best player you can be for us."
In recent history, rookie wideouts usually don’t put up monster numbers and contribute majorly during their first season with the Packers. In Cobb’s first year with Green Bay, he only caught 25 passes for 375 yards behind Greg Jennings and Nelson. For Nelson, he caught 33 passes for 366 yards and two touchdowns his first year while sitting behind Jennings and Donald Driver.
"Some people come in comfortable, some people it takes time." Cobb explained. "Every person is different so it comes down to the man and how he fits in with the system, how he feels in the locker room, the meetings, and just picking up on that everyday lifestyle that we have here. "
Nelson of course is Green Bay’s top receiver on the depth chart heading into the season. Even though he’s playing with the hopes of working for a new contract, Nelson is still lending a hand to Adams, who’s projected to be the fourth man in the Packers’ rotation at the position.
"With a guy like that, he’s especially helpful because he’s very secure with his job and what he can do out there, so he’s not worried." Adams said after his first practice Tuesday. "Sometimes you’ll run into guys that don’t want to help out the younger guys because they feel threatened by ‘em, but Jordy is a great dude and he’s been helpful on the field and in the film room and everything with me."
"Now I’m just knowing my role, just getting in where I fit in pretty much, and just trying to make plays when I can." Adams explained. "The vets are helping out a lot with getting me up to speed with everything," Adams said. "The terminology, and that’s pretty much all it is. Just the new concepts and terminology that I got to pick up and signals and things like that.
After watching Adams at practice Tuesday, he’ll be a big part of their offense in the future. Even though you can tell that he isn’t fully comfortable on the field yet, you saw the talent that made him a stud at Fresno State in their spread offense. But the battle for the third spot at receiver in the rotation isn’t going to be given to him easy. At all. Third-year man Jarrett Boykin looked great running routes, securing the ball, and getting open on the same day, which will make the climb up the depth chart a bit harder for Adams this upcoming season (this is something to revisit come post-training camp, though).
Adams is comfortable with that for now, though: "Obviously I’m not going to be getting as many reps as some of the vets right now because I’m just getting into this thing and getting rolling, so my goal is to just make sure I pick up and try not to make any mistakes when I’m out there on the field so that I will get those reps, and do the best I can with that."