GREEN BAY, Wis. — Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson has no doubt he’ll be healthy enough to play in Saturday night’s playoff game against the Minnesota Vikings.
Nelson, who suffered a knee injury in the regular-season finale, was able to take part in the team’s entire Thursday practice.
“I feel good,” Nelson said in the locker room.
It’s also a near-certainty that wide receiver Randall Cobb, who missed this past weekend’s game with an ankle and knee injury, will play.
“Definitely another week of rest, it will continue to get better and hopefully be to a level where I can perform at a high level on Saturday,” Cobb said.
If Nelson and Cobb are ready, it will be the first time quarterback Aaron Rodgers will have all of his receivers on the field for a full game since Week 4.
Between Nelson’s recurring hamstring injury, Greg Jennings missing eight games due to groin and abdominal injuries and Cobb’s one-week injury, Rodgers has operated nearly the entire season with at least one of his best playmakers sidelined.
“It’s just a matter of finding ways to get the ball in their hands in space,” Rodgers said this week. “We’re blessed with a lot of guys who can get down the field and have different types of talents and abilities that you can utilize in the passing game.”
In the regular season, Cobb led the team in targets, receptions and receiving yards, with James Jones – who did not miss a game – catching the most touchdown passes.
With a group of receivers as good as Green Bay’s, it’s difficult to argue that, when healthy, it’s the best collection of talent any NFL quarterback has to work with. The group is so deep that despite the injuries all-time leading Packers receiver Donald Driver has been a healthy inactive at times this season.
“I don’t think (any team) can go four and five deep like we can,” Nelson said. “Hopefully we can go out and show that.”
Add in tight end Jermichael Finley, who caught more passes this season (61) than any Packers tight end in franchise history, and it would appear that no matter which direction Rodgers looks, he should be able to find an open receiver.
“If everybody’s healthy and we play our type of ball we can play, of course I don’t think anybody can handle us,” Finley said. “It’s going to be hard to double one guy this week. We got all our targets back, and I’m pretty excited.”
Jennings and Finley both had their best statistical games of the season in Week 17 against the Vikings, helping the Packers to score 34 points. But it wasn’t enough, as Minnesota won the game and earned a playoff berth and a rematch with Green Bay.
“We can do a lot more,” Finley said. “We can score a lot more points than 34 points, that’s one thing we can do.”
The receiver getting the most attention from Rodgers has varied from week to week. Cobb and Nelson each led the team in receiving in five games, Jones in three games, Finley and Jennings in one game each and backup tight end Tom Crabtree in one game.
“We’re excited about it, and hopefully we can go out and perform well, make a lot of plays and play a few games together,” Nelson said. “That’s what you want. You want to be at full strength going into the playoffs and I think we’re as healthy as we can be.”
Last season, the Packers led the NFL in scoring with 35 points per game while going 15-1 in the regular season. Those terrific numbers also resulted in Rodgers being named the league’s Most Valuable Player. None of that helped in the playoffs, though, where Green Bay lost in the divisional round at home to the eventual-champion New York Giants.
This season, the Packers offense wasn’t nearly as explosive but still finished fifth in the NFL with 27.1 points per game. But if Rodgers has all of his weapons healthy and ready to go, Green Bay’s offense could be taking off at the perfect time.
“We’re getting healthy at the right time,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “You want to play your best football at this time of year and it’s great to have them.”