June 29, 2017

Darvin Adams energized for return after last season’s injury

Johany Jutras/CFL.ca

There are a few things that have Darvin Adams geeked up and ready to go this weekend.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers deep threat receiver wants to channel the fidgety energy he’s built up from watching Week 1 from the couch, the Bombers opening the year with a bye. He’s stoked to see what some other receivers have done already and is determined to match if not outdo them all. He wants a mulligan on the 2016 season, when he got off to a very good start but was taken out of the picture for ten weeks, suffering a broken left collarbone.

Adams is primed to launch for all these reasons and more. He is bringing, he hopes, a more sturdy body into the fray, counting on a little extra upper body strength to keep him healthy and give him an edge in those one-on-one battles that occur when he’s chasing down a deep ball from quarterback Matt Nichols.

“I think I really kinda pounded on the weight to bulk it up a little,” Adams said after emerging from a post-practice meeting earlier this week, the Bombers prepping for Saturday’s clash with the Saskatchewan Roughriders at new Mosaic Stadium. “Most definitely I did.”

At 27-years-old and looking forward to his fifth CFL season, Adams signed a new three-year deal with Winnipeg during the off-season and set about ensuring he would be as durable as possible in 2017, with an eye to making certain that he didn’t lose any of his explosive speed and leaping ability, the stuff that he used to pull in 56 receptions for 690 yards and six touchdowns over the course of just eight games last year.

Adams’ left shoulder had already been damaged back in college and then again as a pro when he launched his CFL career with the Toronto Argonauts. “My shoulder was kinda messed up already,” he said, noting that he’d torn ligaments around his rotator cuff when he suited up for the NCAA’s Auburn Tigers. The collarbone break – which happened late during a Week 6 contest in Edmonton – was bad enough that it required surgery to repair, forcing Adams to the sidelines until the second-to-last game of the regular season.

“I’ve broken a couple of things on my body before but that’s, by far, the worst I think,” said Adams, who healed, re-habbed and made it through the end of the regular season and the Bombers’ loss to BC in the Western Semi-Final. The memories of sitting out more than half a season weighed on his mind and he became determined to do what he could to try and keep it from happening again. “That’s why I attacked the off-season like I did,” he said. “Re-strengthen it and try to get a stronger upper body.”

“I took the time to go and train more,” he further explained. “I would say I lifted more weight instead of normally what I’ve been doing, (which is) trying to train on speed and explosiveness. I just really took the time out this year to focus on trying to bulk up and try to get a little more weight on me so I could be able to play the style that I play.”

So it wasn’t all about that left shoulder of his, as you can gather from that last sentence. Durability for that shoulder was one goal, sure.

Another was to add to Adams’ already impressive array of abilities, to make him more combat ready when it comes to contested balls in tight coverage. A more powerful upper body can come in handy when another guy’s trying to rip a football out of your arms on the way down to the ground.

I can’t wait to go out there and play. I think we’re ready for the moment and I think we will show it.

Darvin Adams on this week’s game vs Saskatchewan

“It’s not like I’m just focusing on the spot that I hurt,” he said. “I’m just trying to get my whole body (ready). Taking the time to do the small, simple things.”

Extra time is something Adams and his teammates have had, seeing as they were the group that started the season with a bye. While that bonus prep time had its upside – like extra study for their game against the ‘Riders and a team-building trip to a paintball facility for some steam-releasing fun – Adams says a guy can get a little stir crazy, craving some action, especially when he’s plunked in a chair, watching the likes of Toronto’s S.J. Green put together an incredible highlight reel.

“Coming off that injury, it was a great thing to see,” said Adams of Green’s return to action after the devastating knee damage he suffered in 2016. “It’s a great thing to watch other receivers ball out,” he added, admitting that a game like Green’s can really bring one’s competitive nature out.

“It boosts the way other people play,” he said. “It boosts up their game.”

“Watching all the other games it kind of makes you anxious and want to play,” Adams continued. “But you take that wanting to play and you put it into your workout, you put it into your training and your on the field actions (at practice). I think it was a good thing. Gave us a little more time to get our bodies right from camp and be prepared for the first game.”

That first game will be a doozy, a Canada Day pressure cooker amped up by the usual emotions of Winnipeg’s rivalry with Saskatchewan, with the added hot sauce of the regular season debut of the home team at their brand new, $280 million stadium. Adams laughs a knowing laugh when asked about the frenzy he expects.

“The noise will probably be at a max,” he said. “But I think our coaches are gonna do a good job of preparing us for that before we even get there. I’m pretty sure they’ll have us prepared for the things that are gonna take place Saturday.”

“I can’t wait to go out there and play. I think we’re ready for the moment and I think we will show it,” he said.

His moment, the one where he emerges as one of the top receivers in the game, could be at hand. His numbers from 2016 extrapolate to 126 catches, 1,552 yards and 13 touchdowns over eighteen games. Could he have reached those heady numbers? Adams doesn’t think about that and insists that as good as his numbers were, he was nonetheless looking for better. For more. Breaking his collarbone scuttled all that.

“I got a kind of quick start last year, numbers-wise but it still was unsatisfying to me,” he said, before pivoting from last year to the season that is about to unfold.

“Being healthy and staying consistent, I think I could make a lot of noise.”

Asked what “a lot of noise” might translate to, numbers-wise, Adams shakes it off.

“The only goal is the Grey Cup. And if I reach that goal, winning the Grey Cup, I think the rest of the numbers, the touchdowns and everything else, will come with it.”

Darvin Adams is stronger now, confident that extra reps at the gym have both blasted away a frustrating season and paved the way for a more memorable one ahead.