GREEN BAY, Wis. – Davante Adams and the Green Bay Packers’ veteran receivers, who stayed away from the first two weeks of the voluntary organized team activities, were on the field for Day 1 of the mandatory minicamp on Tuesday.
While Aaron Rodgers upped the ante in his dispute with the franchise, Adams and fellow receivers Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Allen Lazard, Equanimeous St. Brown and Devin Funchess were on the practice field, as was cornerback Jaire Alexander, who also skipped the start of OTAs.
Having missed out on six practices, those players took varied rep counts on a steamy midday practice at Clarke Hinkle Field. Adams, for instance, did only some individual drills.
“We’re not trying to do anything crazy,” Adams said. “I think there’s a lot of guys we’ve got out there, a lot of new faces that need to be out there and get some experience. A much shorter offseason than we’ve had in the past, so I think just getting a couple extra faces out there and getting them some reps is the focus. I don’t think I need to prove too much in OTAs right now, just keep making sure I’m in shape and still get my workouts in. That’s what matters.”
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Adams said skipping OTAs had nothing to do with his contract – he’s entering his final season of a four-year extension – and the absences of the veteran receivers wasn’t a coordinated message to the organization.
“I didn’t think we were going to be coming out here,” he said. “Had a lot of stuff going on, still getting in the flow. I liked how I came back into camp last year from doing my thing. So, I felt pretty good about my training and making sure I was in a good spot to come back ready. And then just seeing my daughter, spending family time, I think that was big for me. My daughter’s a COVID baby. So, I haven’t really had a whole lot of time away from her. Coming out here for a couple weeks, I sound like a baby saying it, but y’all know how I feel about my child at this point, so I just had to just get as much time with her as I could.”
Funchess, who was signed in free agency in March 2020, finally made his Packers debut after opting out of the 2020 season and skipping the start of OTAs.
“He sure looks the part, there’s no doubt about that,” coach Matt LaFleur said. “You’re talking about a big, strong, long, physical guy that can run, sink his hips.”
Alexander, arguably the top cornerback in the NFL, received ample snaps with the No. 1 defense. He broke up a pass intended for Valdes-Scantling at the sideline, setting off a raucous celebration from his teammates on defense.
Asked about the workloads for the players who missed the OTAs, LaFleur said: “That’s just something that we talk as a staff and try to get a feel from each player where they’re at. You never want to put a guy in a position to put him at risk, especially this time of the year. So, there’s been a lot of communication amongst us and the players and try to get a feel for what they feel like they need, as well.”
Including Rodgers, seven players didn’t practice. Outside linebackers Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith, offensive lineman Elgton Jenkins and defensive lineman Dean Lowry were in the COVID protocol, though not necessarily for positive tests. Cornerback Ka’dar Hollman, who didn’t practice during the two OTAs with reporters present, rehabbed an injury inside the Hutson Center. Receiver Chris Blair was present but didn’t practice.