For any Packers fans still reeling from Green Bay’s overtime loss to Arizona this past weekend, take solace: Help is on the way.
Jordy Nelson, who tore his ACL in the preseason, is rehabbing well and is ahead of schedule.
“My knee is doing great,” Nelson saison CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “It’s been a smooth process ever since we had the surgery done. No setbacks so far. Everything keeps moving forward. You can’t ask for anything better.”
Nelson, one of the top receivers in the NFL, had 1,519 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2014. He was certainly missed this season, as no Packer finished with 900 receiving yards or double-digit touchdowns.
Green Bay started 6-0 but went 4-6 in its final 10 games.
“It’s a team that fought through a lot,” Nelson said. “I think we had a lot of injuries. Not very many major injuries, but a lot of little things that kept people from playing 100 percent or missing games here or there and kept us out of rhythm. It’s a team that dealt with a lot, really stuck with it, came together and galvanized each other and played some good football and gave ourselves a chance to make a run at it. That’s all you can ask for – to give yourself a shot. We did that. We just came up a little short.”
The Packers finished 15h in scoring offense (23.0 points per game), this after leading the league in scoring (30.4) in 2014.
“When you lose one of your best receivers on a team, it tweaks things a bit,” Nelson said. “Guys are running different roles. The connection between a quarterback and receiver is a lot of chemistry, a lot of rhythm. You just got to get that going. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out the way you want. You can see that game-to-game sometimes.”
Green Bay lost three straight and four of five following its 6-0 start, which had to frustrate Aaron Rodgers.
“I’m sure he was (frustrated),” Nelson said. “When you’re not playing to the ability that he’s played before, when you have a three-game losing streak. I think everyone would get frustrated. I don’t think it affected his game, but the standard he has set and what we have set here in Green Bay, we win a lot of games. We don’t lose games back-to-back-to-back. At times this year, we were in situations that we’re not used to, which I think would frustrate anyone. But for the most part, I think he handled it and was able to move forward each week. But it’s going to take a toll on you whenever you lose a game. It’s not fun.”
Rodgers did get some help from his tailbacks, as Green Bay ranked 12th in the league in rushing offense with 115.6 rushing yards per game. Eddie Lacy led the team with 758 yards and three touchdowns but looked noticeably overweight as the season went on.
“That’s something for Eddie to deal with,” Nelson said. “I’m not going to sit here and critique his body and what he’s doing. That’s a personal thing. We all know your body is your job. If you can’t perform, you’re not going to have a job. (His weight is) probably not ideal, but it’s something for him to take focus on and get under control.”
Mike McCarthy took over play-calling duties for Tom Clements in December and tried to make more of a commitment to the run. At times, the offense looked better; at other times, it didn’t.
“I don’t know how much of a difference it was not being out on the field,” Nelson said. “I think it was more of just guys’ execution, to be honest with you. It’s a lot of the same plays. We were successful at times, but again, in some games we weren’t. At the end of the day, guys got to take it on their own shoulders and understand that it’s our execution more so than who’s calling the plays.”
As for this weekend’s NFC playoff action, Nelson expects a close game between the Panthers and Cardinals. He was asked which team will win if both play their best game.
“I don’t know,” Nelson said. “If the Cardinals play their best game, that means they’re going to be explosive on offense. If the Panthers play their best game, that means they’re not going to allow them to be explosive on offense. So for one team to play their best game, the other team’s not going to.”