GREEN BAY — Jordy Nelson admits it wasn’t fun to be on the sideline during the Packers’ NFC Divisional playoff game in Dallas.
Fresh off leading Green Bay in every major receiving category, the veteran receiver sat out of the Sunday’s thrilling 34-31 win over the No. 1 seed Cowboys due to the rib injury he sustained a week earlier against the New York Giants.
It was a helpless feeling Nelson was all too familiar with when he missed the entire 2015 campaign after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament.
“Unfortunately I’ve experienced it too much in the last year, so I kind of know how to deal with it, but it was hard,” Nelson said.
“It was a great game, loved watching those guys play and the way they performed, different guys stepping up at different times and just making plays across the board. You’re proud of them and very thankful they gave us another week.”
The question now is whether that extra week will be enough for Nelson to get back on the field.
Nelson confirmed on Wednesday that he broke his ribs on the hit he took from Giants safety Leon Hall during the Packers’ 38-13 win over New York in the NFC Wild Card round.
Doubled over in pain on the sideline, Nelson said the injury “was the worst pain I’ve ever felt.” He eventually was carted to the locker room, where he watched Randall Cobb’s Hail Mary catch to end the first half from the trainer’s table.
Nelson later was transferred to a nearby hospital for further examination where he watched the remainder of the victory on a “2-inch-by-2-inch” TV.
He received some good news when doctors informed him tests showed no additional internal injuries besides the ribs.
“The hospital stay … was to get over there to see what was going on after we found out that they were broken here,” Nelson said. “They can make you feel very comfortable in a bed so we decided to stay there. And, by the time we got everything done, it was late at night and it was easier to stay the night. If I wanted to, I could have went home but I was comfortable and it was just easier to stay there instead of trying to move and everything.”
Nelson feels he’s made progress every day over the past 1½ weeks. He’s breathing easy again and was cleared to even catch passes in a limited capacity during Wednesday’s practice.
His availability for Sunday’s NFC Championship Game against the Falcons remains up in the air. Ultimately, a decision will come down to Nelson, the team trainers and doctors weighing pain tolerance and overall functionality.
As Nelson acknowledges, it wouldn’t do the Packers’ offense many favors to have him on the field running half-speed. He typically doesn’t wear a back plate but said he likely would have to wear some type of added protection if he is cleared to play
“I’ve never played receiver with broken ribs, either. We’ll find out, hopefully,” Nelson said. “It’s one of those things that you’ll figure out when you get out there. If it happens, we’ll see how it goes.
“But right now I’m just focused on getting back to full motion and doing everything and seeing if we can get that opportunity. It would be a great chance to have.”
The Packers are pretty banged up at the receiver position at the moment. Only two of the six on the active roster, Randall Cobb and Trevor Davis, were full participants during Wednesday’s practice in the Hutson Center.
Davante Adams (ankle) and Geronimo Allison (hamstring) sat out completely, while Nelson and Jeff Janis (quad) both practiced in a limited capacity. Allison told reporters in the locker room on Wednesday that he sat out for “precautionary reasons.”
“That’s quite a few guys,” Nelson said. “It’s a long week yet. We’ve got time until Sunday. Those guys are putting in the time and work to get healthy. Obviously I think it becomes a mental game right now at this part of the season to make sure you’re ready to go, and everyone’s banged up. So hopefully they can get healthy and get ready. We’ll see.”
Nelson initially brushed off the notion that his presence on the sideline during Sunday’s win over Dallas made an impact on the game itself before being told many of his teammates felt he did.
“Then I did my part,” Nelson laughed. “I mean, it might have been one of the greatest games of all-time, especially in Packers history and so to be able to be there and watch it there and be with those guys was fun.”
Meanwhile, the Pro Bowl receiver hopes his continued progress will allow him to be back on the field competing with the rest of his teammates.
“It’s absolutely day by day and every day it’s getting better,” Nelson said. “So that’s a positive. Hopefully that just continues.”