It was the question waiting on everyone’s lips after practice Friday afternoon in Green Bay: Will star wide receiver Davante Adams return to the field this Sunday afternoon for the Packers?
“We’re all anxiously awaiting that, and we’ll know 90 minutes before kickoff,” head coach Matt LaFleur said Friday about Adams’ status, via ESPN’s Rob Demovsky.
While officially ruled questionable for Sunday’s 3:25 p.m. CT kickoff at the Los Angeles Chargers, Adams appears likely to return after getting through his first full week of practice since suffering a turf toe injury during Week 4’s loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. He appeared to be running full speed during Wednesday’s walkthrough, while Friday’s practice saw him leapfrogging his coach as if to show off just how well his recovery is going.
The unquestioned top wideout in Aaron Rodgers’ arsenal, Adams was injured near the end of one of his best career games after catching 10 passes for 180 yards against the Eagles. He was also the team’s leading receiver with 378 yards — and still ranks second best — over just four games despite not yet having a touchdown reception on the year.
But the Packers offense has also gone through some growth spurts since Adams was sidelined, as Aaron Jones and Rodgers have played like superstars in helping bring the system into true form. The only thing missing has been a truly dynamic pass-catcher to shoulder the receiving load every week, a responsibility few in the NFL fill as well as Adams.
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How High is Packers’ Ceiling When Adams is Back?
With already as many wins as in all of 2018, the Packers are looking their best in years and gearing up for a deep playoff run. They are also their healthiest of the season with everyone participating in practice this week, including Adams in a limited capacity.
It would be reasonable to tame expectations for Adams if he does, in fact, return for Sunday afternoon’s game against the Chargers. Being a pregame decision doesn’t necessarily mean he couldn’t immediately pick up where he left off, but the Packers have been winning with multiple weapons in both the pass and run and could just as easily limit him to ensure no setbacks occur with his injury.
Just having Adams back on the field would change the dynamic of a Packers passing game that makes regular use of multiple wideouts, running backs and tight ends. The strategy, while still effective, would have a known deep-ball threat in the lineup to draw the focus of opposing secondaries — an area where the Chargers have excelled.
A second straight AFC West road game continues to challenge the validity of the Packers’ resurgent season, but they have yet to fold in matchups against all three of their NFC North rivals and on the road against both the Dallas Cowboys and Kansas City Chiefs. The current odds, according to OddsShark, also have the Packers among the top three Super Bowl contenders with half of the season left to go.
Adams will be a central part of that campaign, even if he takes until after Week 11’s bye to fully regain his step. The Packers still face road trips in San Francisco, Minnesota and Detroit during the final six games of their regular season.