Packers WR Nelson ready to play in season opener
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Jordy Nelson's knees aren't going to keep him from playing football on Sunday.
How much the receiver is on the field in the Green Bay Packers' season opener at Jacksonville may simply come down to how much he can stand the heat.
Otherwise, Nelson is ready and eager to play for first time in more than a year.
"I'm playing football," Nelson said Tuesday in a brief response when asked if his knees were an issue.
Nelson tore the ACL in his right knee in a preseason game last summer at Pittsburgh, an injury that knocked him out for the 2015 season.
He arrived this preseason with what he described as a minor issue in his left knee. It was concerning enough to the coaching staff that Nelson only started practicing again a few weeks ago. He didn't play in any preseason games.
"Would it have been better going through camp? Yeah, probably. It wouldn't have hurt," Nelson said. "But I'm not worried about it, I don't think anyone in this locker room is worried about it.
He sat in on meetings. On the field, when he wasn't practicing, Nelson looked like a coach, as he watched plays and interacted with other receivers.
Nelson is one of the best in the business when healthy. In his last full season in 2014, Nelson had 80 catches for 1,519 yards and 13 touchdowns. He has accumulated a highlight reel full of deep balls and back-shoulder receptions, and high wire-like sideline catches from quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
The mystery for now is just how effective Nelson will be on Sunday, and how that affects how he is covered by the Jaguars.
"I mean, it depends on how healthy they think he is," Rodgers said. "But I think we're all looking forward to the sight of No. 87 back on the field and healthy."
Nelson's return means the Rodgers has his full supporting cast back in Green Bay. A slimmed-down Eddie Lacy has shown the hard-charging running in camp that made him a star in his first couple years in the league.
Randall Cobb, who is known for making tough catches in traffic, added some upper-body bulk to put up with more pounding.
"Jordy taking the top off things and me working underneath -- I think we really do complement each other well," Cobb said.
Coach Mike McCarthy said Nelson and Cobb are "wired very similar" in that each can play multiple receiving positions, and have a complete understanding of the entire offense.
"How you're attacking the opponent, why you're attacking the opponent that way and the adjustments off of that," McCarthy said. "So Jordy and Randall both have obviously an excellent understanding of our offense, and they're great role models for our younger players ."
McCarthy has said Nelson is a "full go" this week. Nelson said he's ready for any workload, but there is no estimate on the number of plays he'll take.
"We'll play it by snap-by-snap to be honest with you. There (are) a lot of things that could happen differently," Nelson said.
For instance, if the game plan calls for Nelson to run deep routes on three straight plays, more likely than not, he'll come out for the next play or two. That would have been the case even when he was healthy.
Weather in Jacksonville is another variable, with the forecast calling for mostly sunny skies and highs in the low-90s on Sunday. The hot, sticky weather in Green Bay on Tuesday forced the Packers indoors for practice because of morning rain.
"I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of guys are rotating to stay fresh," Nelson said. "But no, I feel great. Practice today felt great. I've done a lot on my own to get ready. So I don't think it will honestly be an issue."