GREEN BAY, Wisconsin – By early September 2016, exactly 17 games had come and gone since Davante Adams' last 100-yard day – only the second of his career.
The fans had become impatient.
A longtime NFL scout believed they were justified.
"You keep trotting # 17 out there and throwing at him like he's (Falcons star) Julio Jones or something," the scout said in a text message sent on September 19, 2016, the day after the Packers 17-14 The Minnesota Vikings lost against them in Week 2, when Adams was targeted seven times and caught three passes for 26 yards.
Since then, Adams has been basically Julio Jones.
In 70 games since Week 3 of the 2016 season, Jones ranks third among NFL receivers on catches (449), first on yards (6,865), and twelfth on touchdowns (27).
In the same period of time, Adams finished fourth in catches (413), fourth in yards (5,206) and first in touchdowns (50) in five fewer games.
Adams, who competes for the San Francisco 49ers Thursday night (8:20 p.m. ET, Fox), has been responsible for the NFL lead with seven touchdown catches this season despite missing two games with a hamstring injury.
What makes Adams so successful and so difficult to cover?
Some of his Green Bay predecessors, as well as coaches and players from across the league, agreed to share their views on the matter. Here's a look at the 27-year-old three-time Pro Bowl player with eyes:
The Packers & # 39; Davante Adams is tied for the NFL leadership with seven touchdowns despite missing two games with a hamstring injury. Dan Powers / Appleton Post-Crescsent-USA TODAY NETWORK
Jordy, James and Randall
James Jones' career with the Packers (2007-13 and 2015) meant playing with Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, and a season with Adams. The driver is the front runner among packers at catches and yards. Jennings was one of the most precise distance runners in the league. Nelson's body control was second to none, as was his connection with quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Cobb was the epitome of the slot goal. Jones was the strongest and toughest of the group.
Jones: "I'm always proud to be a competitor, a humble guy and a very good teammate, and as I sit here right now, I can tell you Davante is better than any of us. And that's not disrespect to Jordy, Randall or someone else Well, I wouldn't say that to Davante's face, I'm going to say right to his face, "I'm better than you." But to you I say it, he's the best of us all. "
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Nelson (laughing): "J.J. is right. Davante has shown it in the last few years. His playing skills and the way he can break up are very rare."
Jones: "If you look at the receivers in the league, you can say that this is their strength and their weakness. You cannot say anything about Davante. I see (Cardinal DeAndre) Hopkins and He is not very good at, for example on the scrimmage line. But when you talk about Davante, you're talking about release, he's phenomenal. (yards after catch) Yardage, he's phenomenal. Route runs, he's phenomenal. The ability to do that. Go up and do that hard catch, it's phenomenal. Speed, yes, it's not 4.3 (seconds), but he always comes back and catches the deep balls or doesn't get caught from behind. He is special in every category. "
Nelson: "He's got everything you need as a receiver. Now you see the last couple of years with him and Aaron, there's the chemical factor of getting on the same page. When they know you got the ball and you still Get the ball and you will know it's special. "
Jones had a connection with Adams, a selection of the Packers from the second round in 2014, even before they became teammates at Green Bay. Keith Williams, the receiving coach for Adams in the state of Fresno, previously worked with Jones in the state of San Jose.
Jones: "I wasn't (with the Packers) when they first designed it. I was in Oakland, but when I saw it on TV – I'll never forget I was with my wife to see the design – called I immediately call Jordy. ""
Randall Cobb (left), Davante Adams (center) and Jordy Nelson (right) made a strong trio for quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Larry W. Smith / EPA
Nelson: "I remember calling JJ because I knew JJ's trainer was in Fresno state and he had worked a bit with the guys in Fresno. I just called him and said, 'Who is this Child? What do we have? & # 39; ""
Jones: "I said:" You better do your things right, you better keep playing at a high level because this guy you just drew is absolutely special. ""
Nelson: "Yeah, JJ knew he was the real deal and that's what you want. I think (Adams) told you guys, and he told me he thought I hate him when he did Was a newbie. I told him, "No, you were just young and I was trying to get you going because there was more to it than just playing football." "
Cobb: "The first indicator (was) just his natural ability. When I first saw Davante on the field, he stepped up and made an incredible catch and we knew he was from the day he walked into the building , had something special in him. Can jump out of the building, great hands, great distance runner. You only see the skills he has built, the focus he put into his craft to become the best in the league I'm proud to have witnessed it. to see his growth and to see the person he has become, the father he has become and the football player he is now. "
After two big games as a rookie in 2014 – 121 yards against the Patriots in Week 13 and 117 yards against the Cowboys in the divisions playoff round – expectations rose. At the beginning of Adams' second season, Nelson ripped his ACL in a preseason game on August 23, 2015. Less than two weeks later, the Packers re-signed Jones, who had played for the Raiders last season and was cut by the Giants at the end of the preseason. Adams missed three games in 2015 with an ankle injury and was never the same for the rest of the year.
James Jones says Aaron Rodgers has been gifted with special recipients over the years and "now it's Davante's turn". Jeff Hanisch / USA TODAY Sport
Jones: "(Adams) was frustrated being the competitor he is, but he had a lot of good people in his corner. The good thing about the guys he played with was something we all went through. And we were all there to to be able to tell him, "Bro, it's all good. These kind of things are going to happen in your career. Everyone knows what you can do, you just keep going." "
Nelson: "I think part of that might have been the space we had, especially the year he (2015) struggled to have JJ back as a veteran leader at Randall. And just having the stability in that space and knowing that there are other people out there who can do the theater and it's not all on his shoulders and I think for the most part in our room we were very honest with each other and helped each other through the good and the bad . In the building, you know when a guy is struggling and when it's someone as explosive as him. That was due to a lower limb injury that will affect his game significantly. "
Jones: "We all knew when his time was coming, it would be his time. We saw what he had. You would be blind if you didn't see this. Our job was just to make sure his thoughts were right I tell people all the time, "Yes, Aaron Rodgers never had a first round recipient. But he had a lot of special recipients: Jordy Nelson, Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, myself, Randall Cobb and now it's Davante your turn. & # 39; "
Dan Orlovsky breaks the Packers against the 49ers and explains which team will be ahead on Thursday.
The opposite view
Over the years, Adams has consistently pulled an opponent's # 1 corner kick. Try to be a first or second year gamer with this assignment. In this year's season opener, Adams set the Vikings on fire for 14 catches, 156 yards and two touchdowns. It was rookie cornerback Cameron Dantzler's first game. With no preseason action, he could only hope that one of his teammates could simulate what Adams would do. At least someone like Amani Oruwariye, the second year Lions cornerback, had some experience to bring to a game.
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Dantzler: "I had the feeling that it started during the training camp with (Viking veteran receiver) Adam (Thielen), who competed against him every day. I had the feeling that he prepared me very well to cover such guys feel like one of the best. " Receiver in the league at the moment. He just prepared with him during training camp and helped me tremendously with people like Davante Adams. "
Oruwariye: "You can try to take a look, try to tell people to try and give you that look, but if you come from the real source itself that's the real thing. You just have to try to manage it and do what you can, but he's really good at what he does.
"Firstly, he mastered his release. Very patient and just knows when to use his hands depending on when you're shooting your jam and the like. He's just very smart. I would say he's a high profile veteran at this point . And then, along with his timing and chemistry with Aaron Rodgers, that's the biggest thing, I'd say. He just knows where to be at the right time. "
Two of the three opposing head coaches at NFC North have a defensive background: Matt Patricia in Detroit and Mike Zimmer in Minnesota. Patricia got an early glimpse of Adams in that 2014 game against the Patriots when Patricia was New England's defensive coordinator.
Davante Adams "is one of the most dynamic players in the league," says Lions coach Matt Patricia. Troy Taormina / USA TODAY Sport
Patricia: "I'm pretty sure there was a breakout game against us in 2014 when I played him at Green Bay. I think this is one of those games that he really stepped in and you can just do it see all the skills that are shown. His releases are. He has a big leap from the limit. He can go at speed. He can go vertical. He has great movement on the track where he can come back and just part at this point he's got enough speed to go vertically, is instantly guided by guys, has enormous hands, his ability to follow the ball in the air is truly phenomenal. he just never loses sight of it. and he's in able to make some pretty incredible catches as he goes through. He's one of the most dynamic players in the league. "
Adams & # 39; last four games against the Vikings: 41 catches, 431 yards and five touchdowns.
Room: "He's very good in the press. He does a great job with the route combinations he drives. He's excellent at the top of the route. Makes contested catches really good. He's one of those guys when you play." These guys, they'll get their catches. They just hope you can limit them to not being big games. I think that's one of his strong points. He catches the ball well over the middle, he catches the ball outside and he is very, very good against the press. That makes it really difficult. And he has a man who pulls the trigger, who believes in him and can manipulate the defense in so many different ways. "
NFL Nation reporters Sarah Barshop, Courtney Cronin, and Michael Rothstein contributed.