GREEN BAY — Davante Adams’ answer was immediate, direct and unambiguous.
The Green Bay Packers first-team All-Pro wide receiver had been discussing Wednesday afternoon his approach — and quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ approach — to the season they’re about to embark upon together, starting with Sunday’s season opener against the New Orleans Saints at Jacksonville’s TIAA Bank Field.
Adams had done his best to avoid delving too deeply into their mentality entering a year with some major “The Last Dance” overtones, but when asked if there was a chance he and the team might strike an 11th hour deal on an extension before the season officially began — something that wouldn’t be unprecedented, considering how left tackle David Bakhtiari had signed an extension in a Jacksonville hotel room on the eve of the 2016 opener there — Adams, who wants to be the NFL’s highest-paid receiver, left zero room for hope.
“No,” he said flatly. “No chance. No.”
While Adams and Rodgers both shared their thoughts with reporters Wednesday amid the uncertain futures they and many of their teammates face, none of their answers underscored the potential finality of this season like Adams’ reply to that question had.
Adams is in the final year of his contract, as are a host of other players on offense (including tight end Robert Tonyan, wide receivers Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Allen Lazard). Meanwhile, Rodgers’ reworked deal has another year remaining on it, but when he reported to training camp in late July, his representatives and the team discussed a potential parting of the ways via a trade next spring if Rodgers decides he wants to move on.
Which is why Rodgers and Adams have been very deliberate in their approach throughout the summer, wanting to make sure their teammates follow their lead, focusing on the here-and-now and the possibilities that lie ahead for a team with clear Super Bowl LVI aspirations.
“Myself, my quarterback, I feel we have almost an identical mindset right now, and it really spreads across the team, because it’s something we talked about,” Adams explained, adding he, Rodgers, tight end Marcedes Lewis and other veterans recently held a “leadership panel” where they spoke with the younger players about why they’re approaching the season the way they are.
“We don’t know what the next year is going to hold. Leaving myself and Aaron out of it, it’s still a lot of big parts to this team other than us here. There’s always uncertainty year-to-year as far as who’s going to be on the roster. The way we look at is, this is the team we have right now, so we have to go out there and take care of business.
“It’s been something Aaron and I have talked about, and we try to have the right mindset on. When we’re out there golfing or whatever, we just say (that) this has to be the year, just because we’re not going to have exactly the same team next year, whether that’s him not being here (or) me, Marcedes, Marquez, whoever it is.”
For his part, Rodgers has made it very clear he doesn’t want this season to feel like a “farewell tour” for him and that taking a savor-the-moment approach to his 2020 season gave him a GPS system to follow in his 17th and possibly final year in Green Bay.
Rodgers acknowledged there are “a lot of unknowns” entering the season, and when asked about where he’s at personally, Rodgers said he is in “a good headspace” after what he called “a lot of contemplation throughout the offseason.” But, he pivoted the conversation to focus on his approach with teammates and how deliberate he has been about his interactions with them.
“It’s how I want to communicate with certain players throughout the season and being very intentional about what those conversations look like on a daily basis and a weekly basis, attaching events or conversations to certain days of the week,” Rodgers explained. “I think that’s the most important thing for me as an older player, is to not let the routine become mundane, but let the normal become opportunities for growth within the structure of the routine.
“I think it’s understanding how your energy directly affects the people around you and being very mindful of the desired outcome with every interaction. … Davante and ‘Big Dog’ (Lewis), we have as much conversations as anybody. What is the desired result of those situations? And how can I be intentional enough to get the message across to them so we can be the voice to the entire team? I think that’s the biggest thing with leadership, is empowerment. How can I as a leader on the team and the oldest guy on the team, the longest-tenured, how can I empower those guys to lead in ways that best help us achieve our goals?”
Rodgers’ esoteric answers notwithstanding, he more importantly enters the season coming off what was his best training camp under coach Matt LaFleur and might’ve been his best since 2011.
As vital as his leadership may be, the Packers also know their fortunes rest on the 37-year-old future Pro Football Hall of Famer having another outstanding year. Based on what LaFleur observed throughout the summer, he believes Rodgers is primed for exactly that.
“He’s done an outstanding job,” LaFleur said. “He’s been a great leader, and I think he’s playing at a really high level. But that’s in practice. Ultimately, all 11 on the field have to go out there and do it collectively.
“You don’t want to rest on past merits, which I know (Rodgers) doesn’t. He definitely puts the work in. But I think he’s in a really good headspace. And I think he’s got the right mentality, the right mindset. He’s been excited to come to work, and I think he’s done a really good job of leading those younger players and trying to get them up to speed as fast as possible.”
The Packers listed three players on their first injury report of the season: outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith (back), defensive tackle Tyler Lancaster (elbow) and safety Vernon Scott (hamstring), with Scott the only one not to participate at all in practice. Smith was listed as being limited. “Z is doing better,” LaFleur said. “We’ll give him the week. Obviously, we want to make sure he continues to put back-to-back days together and comes out healthy and is feeling good.” … LaFleur said the team is emphasizing hydration with the expected hot, humid conditions in Jacksonville. How will they know if players are properly hydrating? “Certainly, every time they pee, you want it to look clear,” LaFleur replied with a chuckle. … LaFleur said the players voted for captains on Wednesday morning but did not reveal the results of the balloting. … Rodgers said he did not recall new punter Corey Bojorquez asking him for his jersey following a 2018 game against the Buffalo Bills, Bojorquez’s team at the time. But, Rodgers said, he did talk to the new guy about the story, which Bojorquez told reporters earlier this week. “I squared him up in the locker room — nicely — and I said, ‘That’s the story you’re going to go with on Day 1, huh?’” Rodgers recounted, smirking. “I don’t remember that. It would have been a ‘No’ either way, though.”
Photos: Packers' 2021 season in pictures
Check out photo galleries from every game of 2021 from the preseason through the end of the regular season and the playoffs.
The Green Bay Packers fell to the Houston Texans 26-7 in a preseason game at Lambeau Field in Green Bay on Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021.
The Green Bay Packers failed to pick up a win in the preseason, falling to 0-3 in exhibition play after getting blanked by the Buffalo Bills 1…
Despite third-string quarterback Kurt Benkert’s strong showing while filling in for injured backup QB Jordan Love, the Packers came up short i…
Reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers threw two interceptions as the Green Bay Packers struggled on both sides of the ball Sunday afternoon, falling …