The hardest play: Focusing on next snap after injuries like Davante Adams'

Fantasy impact of Packers' injuries (1:29)

With Packers starters Ty Montgomery and Davante Adams questionable with injuries, Matthew Berry says to hold on to backup RBs Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones until further notice. (1:29)

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- How many people remember the play after the play? The one where the Green Bay Packers had to line up for the next snap after Davante Adams was wheeled off the field with his body strapped to a gurney?

When coach Mike McCarthy radioed in the call -- 200 Jet Drag -- to Aaron Rodgers, play resumed and the game went on as it always does. Rodgers flung a short pass to the right flat, and Jordy Nelson ran it into the end zone for perhaps the most lightly-celebrated touchdown in Lambeau Field history.

Who wanted to rejoice just minutes after Adams got drilled in the helmet and briefly knocked out by Chicago Bears linebacker Danny Trevathan? Nelson simply dropped to a knee and whispered a prayer for his friend, saying afterward, "That definitely was for Tae." Even the crowd's muted response signaled that everyone in the stadium understood this was no time to be overjoyed.

Forget celebrating. Who even wanted to play after that?

"After a play like that, you'd rather say, 'Let's call it a game and revisit this another day,' " said former Packers defensive back Charles Woodson, who was on the field in 2011 when teammate Nick Collins was carted off the field after what was a career-ending neck injury.

Those plays -- the play after the play -- might be the hardest in football.

"I don't know if there's anything tougher than that," Rodgers said this week.

Especially when it's a close friend.

"It almost takes a little bit of the fight out of you," Woodson said. "Really when you see someone getting carted off, however bad the injury is, you almost don't want to play that particular day, especially when they're your friends. In the case of Nick, I spent holidays at Nick's house. I know his wife, his kids. This is your family. So yeah, it's hard to go back out there and play the next play."

But there's always a next play even if it's, as Woodson described, "a blur."

In the NFL, the game stops for no one or nothing. Not even in practice, which is what made Mike Zimmer's decision to end the workout after quarterback Teddy Bridgewater blew out his knee during a 2016 training camp session all the more shocking.

"It's 100 percent cruel, but this business is cruel," Packers linebacker Clay Matthews said. "They cut guys, they throw guys on IR. You just try and do everything you can to make sure you're not in that position, but there are some things you can't control. Davante was trying to get extra yards and the next thing you know, he's on a gurney. Nick's trying to make a tackle, and then he can't play anymore."

Woodson, who played 18 years in the NFL, learned that early in his career.

"You've been at practices before where somebody gets hurt and they just move the drill down 10 yards," Woodson said. "That's kind of how it is. You say to yourself, 'This is part of it.' We all know it could happen at any time to anybody, but you've got to go out there and do your job. You wish sometimes they would just stop the game, but then you come to the realization they're not going to stop the game, so you've got to go out there and do what you've got to go."

At some point, every player realizes it. For Matthews, it was in college at USC when teammate Ryan Powdrell, a fullback who spent one season with the Packers in 2007, broke his leg.

"He snapped his leg, and it was facing the wrong way," Matthews said. "I was like, 'Just call the game, call it.' But then they wheel him off, and you've got to go out there and play."

So there were Rodgers, Nelson and nine other players in all-white jerseys last week back in the huddle with 4:13 left in the third quarter, ready -- or as ready as can be -- to play another play.

"It is tough to refocus in those situations," Rodgers said.

Yet they always do it.

"You huddle up and you line back up," Nelson said. "I mean, there's a lot of things that a lot of guys in this room have dealt with on and off the field. I don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing, but you have to continue to move on. You somewhat build up a tolerance to it over the years of playing football from little injuries to bigger injuries and obviously something as dramatic as that. I guess you kind of just get used to it. You move on; you don't forget about it because we're still talking about it on the sideline afterwards, but we don't have a choice."

That doesn't mean it's easy.

Players aren't robots and many of them don't have guaranteed contracts. Take Adams, for example. He's in the final year of his original deal. As a second-round pick in 2017, he received a $1,180,656 signing bonus and will make $3.933 million during the length of that four-year contract. But if Trevathan's hit had ended his career, he wouldn't make another dime off football.

"You don't know, that could've been a career-ender, it could've paralyzed him," Packers guard Lane Taylor said. "It's tough to see one of your teammates go down like, especially after a dirty hit. You just have to go about business. You have to win the game. We know what Davante would do if he was still in the game, he would line up and go out there and try to score. It's a tough part of the game, but you just have to keep on rolling."

It's not easy on the coaches, either.

As far as McCarthy is concerned, he has made that walk onto the field too many times to check on a player after a devastating hit. There was Collins in 2011, and Jermichael Finley in 2013. Both were career-enders. There was rookie receiver Malachi Dupre this summer during the preseason, and now Adams.

All four walked into the stadium under their own power and left in an ambulance.

"They're all hard," McCarthy said.

It was with that in mind that McCarthy retreated to the sideline after the medical staff took Adams to a waiting ambulance and looked down at his laminated playcalling card.

"I think about plays you call after something like that," McCarthy said. "You stay close to your base stuff and just be smart in that situation. [The next play] was a Day 1 installation play: '200 Jet Drag.' "

It was the Nelson touchdown, and the NFL machine rolled on -- albeit with a subdued reaction from all involved.