Davante Adams was a rookie with the Green Bay Packers in 2014 when Jordy Nelson set the franchise’s single-season record for yards receiving.
Seven years later, Adams appears on the verge of shattering his former teammate’s record.
Adams heads into the Packers’ final regular-season game with 1,498 yards receiving. He needs just 21 more to match Nelson’s 2014 total of 1,519.
The 2014 second-round pick from Fresno State acknowledges he doesn’t remember much about the moment Nelson set that record.
"I was just so used to seeing him make plays that I didn’t really think a whole lot of it at that point," Adams said. "So obviously looking back now, it was pretty special. I mean, I’m at the end of my eighth season now and just now approaching getting close to being able to potentially having a share of that record, so it would mean a lot to be able to eclipse that.
"I’ve achieved a lot, so my entire legacy and my mental isn’t riding on that, but it’s definitely a honor to be mentioned with guys like Jordy for sure."
The Packers (13-3) have nothing at stake Sunday at Detroit (2-13-1) since they’ve already clinched the NFC’s top seed and lone first-round playoff bye, but Packers coach Matt LaFleur has said he plans to play all of his usual starters.
LaFleur said he’s letting his regulars play out of concern they otherwise might not be sharp enough for the divisional playoffs Jan. 22-23 after such a long layoff.
That decision should give Adams a shot at passing Nelson. Reigning MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers has a unique perspective on the chase since he threw to both.
"Players who stick around in this league are guys who can do at least one thing excellent, and those guys were blessed with many talents that separate themselves from other players around the league," Rodgers said. "Jordy was obviously such a good route runner, good at setting up the routes and obviously great hands, great timing, great scramble drill awareness, fast enough to get down the field and hit those corner posts we hit for years and tough enough to block and to break tackles.
"Davante, he’s just so talented. His releases are incredible, his ball awareness, his timing, his hands, his ability to make contested catches, his ability to create separation in short spaces in the red zone. So two uniquely different guys, but two guys who at the core really understand the quarterback position and timing and spacing and intricacies of the offense and how to cheat the system to their advantage."
Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams line up to run a play against the Cleveland Browns on Christmas Day
Adams’ recent production suggests he won’t need much time to get the record.
He has caught 52 passes for 634 yards over his last six games and exceeded the 100-yard mark in all but one. After scoring just three times in his first nine games, he has eight touchdown catches over his last six games. He missed one game while on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
Perhaps his most notable achievement came Sunday during the Packers’ 37-10 rout of the Minnesota Vikings as he passed the 8,000-yard mark in career yards receiving. He joined Marvin Harrison and Larry Fitzgerald as the only players to have at least 650 catches, 8,000 yards receiving and 70 touchdown catches in their first eight seasons
If Adams overtakes Nelson, he will have completed a clean sweep of all the Packers’ major single-season receiving records over the past two years.
Adams earned All-Pro honors in 2020 as he played just 14 games, but still set the team record for catches (115) and also had 18 touchdown receptions to tie the mark Sterling Sharpe had set in 1994. He has broken his own record this year by catching 117 passes.
The 29-year-old Adams acknowledges those records mean something to him.
"Any time I set goals for myself as far as numbers, it’s just to hold myself to a standard," Adams said. "If I go out and catch 20 touchdowns, then that means, more often than not that’s going to equate to wins. So that’s kind of my mentality on it."