For the first time since injuring his neck in Week 2 at Carolina, Packers safety Nick Collins was on the sidelines with his teammates on Sunday at Lambeau Field.
Collins recently had surgery on his neck and is in the midst of his recovery process. He was officially placed on injured reserve this past week and will not play again this season.
He has not spoken to reporters since his injury and his long-term football future remains up in the air for now, but his teammates were thrilled to have him around for the 24-3 victory over St. Louis.
“He’s a third eye out there,” said safety Charlie Peprah, who has taken over Collins’ starting spot. “Besides our coach, he’s out there coaching us up. He sees things differently than we do sometimes, and he’s giving us tips and things like that, so I enjoy having him on the sideline.”
Knowing your foe: The Packers took advantage of Rams cornerback Al Harris’ aggressiveness on the 93-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers to Jordy Nelson in the second quarter. Harris, who played for the Packers from 2003-09, tried to jump what he thought was a slant route to Nelson.
Nelson took off deep, though, and that was all she wrote.
“Aaron wanted to put a double move on Al,” Nelson said. “Obviously with Al being here, we know how he plays. He’s an aggressive corner. He’s a great corner. We gave him one step in to make it look like a slant, he bit on it, Aaron put the ball out, and I was able to split two guys and get in the end zone.”
The 93-yard score was the longest career completion for both Rodgers and Nelson. It was the fourth-longest completion in team history and the longest since Brett Favre’s 99-yard connection with Robert Brooks on a 1995 Monday night in Chicago.
For Nelson, it was his second TD reception of 80-plus yards this season, the other coming in Carolina. That ties the single-season franchise record with four other players (Billy Howton, 1952; Antonio Freeman, 1998; Donald Driver, 2002; Greg Jennings, 2007).
It was also the third TD of 80-plus yards in Nelson’s career, which ties him for second on the all-time franchise list, behind only Jennings, who has four.
Rodgers’ first TD pass of the day was to James Jones, and it was the third straight game with a score for Jones, the first time he has accomplished that in his career.
The 35-yard pass came off of play-action, as Rodgers rolled to his left. The primary read is a short throw into the flat, but Jones had more than a step on cornerback Justin King and Rodgers let it fly.
“James came open,” Rodgers said. “I’ve thrown that one time in six years on that play, to Rod Gardner in training camp.”
Gardner was in training camp with the Packers in 2006, two years before Rodgers became a starting quarterback.
Eventful day for Masthay: Punter Tim Masthay had an eventful day dealing with the 20-30 mile-per-hour winds swirling around Lambeau.
Early in the fourth quarter, Masthay first boomed a career-long 67-yarder that sailed over returner Austin Pettis’ head and carried to the Rams’ 4-yard line before Pettis fielded it. For a moment it appeared Masthay might not even get the punt off while under a heavy rush from the Rams.
“I think it was pretty close, but that happens sometimes,” Masthay said. “There’s a lot of punts where they’re not that far off, but as long as they don’t get it, it doesn’t matter.
“I knew I had hit it really well, and I saw the returner backpedaling. It got over his head and took kind of a dead bounce. I was really pleased with the good hit.”
He was pleased with the next one, too, but the wind didn’t help him. Trying to punt the ball to the right, Masthay played the wind and put the ball down the middle, only the ball stayed on that line. Pettis had lots of field to work with and returned it 39 yards, with Masthay making the tackle himself at the Green Bay 37.
“The wind is blowing so hard that I’m just expecting the wind to take it,” he said. “I hit a good ball. It just stayed in the middle. It didn’t go right.”
So far, so good: Safety Morgan Burnett played the game with a club-cast on his broken hand and didn’t appear to have any issues. The one time the club might have hindered him was early in the first quarter when tight end Lance Kendricks stiff-armed him to the ground on a long catch-and-run, but later Burnett showed perfect tackling form when he buried running back Cadillac Williams near the line of scrimmage after a short swing pass.
“It felt good,” Burnett said. “Once you strap your helmet on and get out there, your adrenaline is rushing, and I wasn’t even thinking about the club. I was just trying to be accountable and doing my job.”
Burnett was credited with nine total tackles in the game and a forced fumble against running back Steven Jackson, but the Rams recovered.
Two players returned from injuries and appeared to get through the game unscathed. Right tackle Bryan Bulaga had missed the previous two games with a knee injury but played from start to finish against the Rams.
Matched up most of the game against pass-rusher Chris Long, Bulaga kept the son of Hall of Famer Howie Long rather quiet. Long was credited with just two tackles and no sacks.
“We’ll see on tape tomorrow,” Bulaga said. “I’m not quick to judge myself until I get in the meeting room and see what took place out there.
“(The knee) felt good throughout the game. No issues, really. It went pretty smoothly.”
Outside linebacker Frank Zombo also was back in action, making his regular-season debut following recovery from a broken shoulder blade. Zombo played a few series in place of starter Erik Walden on defense and was credited with four tackles.
Injury update: Head Coach Mike McCarthy reported only two injuries from the game.
Rookie tight end Ryan Taylor left the game in the first half with an elbow injury but returned. Second-year cornerback Sam Shields departed with a head injury, presumably sustained when he took a big hit trying to run his fourth-quarter interception out of the end zone. McCarthy said Shields was still being evaluated. Additional coverage - Packers vs. Rams