GREEN BAY, Wis. — Two weeks after undergoing knee surgery, Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson is unsure whether he’ll be ready for the start of the regular season.
When coach Mike McCarthy initially announced Nelson’s surgery, he expressed hope that the 28-year-old’s absence would only extend through the preseason. Though Nelson claims his rehabilitation is “progressing right on schedule,” he also said that he’s “slowly progressing.”
With the Packers 20 days away from playing in San Francisco for their regular-season opener, Nelson has some doubt that he’ll be on the field with his teammates for that game.
“You never know,” Nelson said Monday in the locker room.
Nelson wouldn’t specify other than to describe his injury as a “knee issue” that flared up in a practice a few weeks ago. When asked of a report that suggested Nelson has been battling through this injury since his college career at Kansas State six years ago, Nelson said “that’s a little over the top” and added that it had gone away during his first five seasons in Green Bay.
“You want to avoid surgery as much as possible and that’s what we tried to do,” Nelson said. “I thought we had it taken care of and then we realized we didn’t.
“I wasn’t going to be able to be 100 percent. It was something I would have been able to play through if it would have happened in-season or something, but there was enough time that we kind of took the chance that if everything went smooth we could get in and out during training camp and hopefully have a healthy 16-game season.”
As Nelson noted, he did take a chance by opting for the surgery. That chance was a calculation in terms of whether there was enough time — 34 days, to be exact — for him to get game-ready by early September.
Nelson has been running during his work with the Packers’ training staff. However, much of that running has been done on a weightless machine that Nelson said “allows you to run and not put all the pounding on your legs.”
It’s a given that Nelson won’t play in the preseason. McCarthy knew that two weeks ago. But if Nelson isn’t able to practice in the days leading up to the 49ers game, that would certainly lessen the probability that the Packers play him in Week 1.
“There’s things you can do in the training room to hopefully get your wind somewhat close,” Nelson said. “Football is football and you need to play games to really be in shape.
“Our main goal is San Fran. And that’s just a goal. You never know what could happen. We’ll just continue to go day by day.”
Nelson led Green Bay in every major receiving category in 2011 with 68 catches for 1,263 yards and 15 touchdowns. Last season, he battled hamstring and ankle injuries, sidelining him for four games and preventing him from building off his breakout success in 2011.
Nelson’s injury, along with fellow receiver Randall Cobb’s right biceps injury, has given increased snaps to second-year players Jarrett Boykin and Jeremy Ross, as well as undrafted rookie Tyrone Walker. Veteran James Jones and tight end Jermichael Finley have become quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ top two options in training camp and in the first two preseason games.