Before Ted Thompson turned the world of the Green Bay Packers upside down with the release of Josh Sitton, the biggest question facing the Packers was what Jordy Nelson would be able to do Week 1 against the Jaguars.
The answer to that question, which won’t be known until Sunday may well determine whether the Packers win or lose Sunday’s season opener against a team that’s better than you think.
For all intents and purposes, Nelson sounds ready to go and at his Monday press conference, head coach Mike McCarthy said Green Bay expects to have him play without limitations.
It was not a surprise to see Nelson sit out the preseason, but it would have helped him prepare for the speed of the game. Practice is one thing, a game is another.
Yet, we also need to remember that Nelson isn’t just an ordinary player. This is a world-class athlete that has had more than a year to recover. Adrian Peterson took just eight months — thus Nelson should be ready to go.
For the most part, I think we will see the same old Nelson Sunday. There will be some rust and it may take him time to regain full confidence in the knee, but I think we will see him make a positive impact on the offense.
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The former Pro Bowler may not catch eight balls for 90 yards, but I certainly expect to see him nab five or six passes. I also think the Jaguars’ defense is going to have to respect him with safety help. If they don’t, their corners will be tested.
Nelson’s presence should also open things up for the running game, cause safeties can’t camp in the box. He also contributes to big runs because he is one of the best blocking wide outs in pro football. He will also ease the coverage on Randall Cobb in the slot and Jared Cook in the middle of the field.
And last but not least, I believe that Nelson’s presence will allow Aaron Rodgers to play with more confidence. There’s no question, Rodgers lost faith in his receivers last season and it screwed with his timing.
At times, Rodgers held the ball way too long or didn’t even attempt to the fit the ball into tight windows. That kind of conservative play isn’t the way the two-time MVP won a Super Bowl and it won’t be how the Packers get back to the big game.
Nelson will help him re-capture his swagger. He will also bring those quick curl routes and check-with-me’s back to the offense. Those are easy throws and with Nelson’s ability to break tackles, he can sometimes turn them into big chunks of yardage.
Nelson isn’t a miracle worker and his production Sunday may not reach his usual standard — but he will impact the game in a myriad of other ways and that could be, what leads Green Bay to victory.