GREEN BAY – If there’s anything that’ll hold Jordy Nelson back on Sunday in Jacksonville, it won’t be his knees.
It might be the Florida heat, or the fact that he hasn’t played a full, meaningful game since the NFC title tilt in Seattle 19½ months ago, but his surgically repaired knee and his other, “hiccupped” knee are just fine.
“I feel great,” Nelson said after Tuesday’s practice, his first at full-go in 2016. “Practice today felt great. I’ve done a lot on my own to get ready.”
To say Nelson is eager to play again would be an understatement. He expects to have some nerves come 1 p.m. ET on Sunday, and he’s not sure exactly how many snaps he can expect to play, but he’s pledging to be “ready for anything.”
“We’re not going to put a number on it,” he said. “We’ve discussed it. We’ll play it snap by snap. Seeing what the weather’s like, I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of guys are rotating just to stay fresh.”
From a matchup standpoint, it also remains to be seen whether Nelson will see former teammate and Jacksonville cornerback Davon House lined up across from him most of the time, or if he’ll also battle rookie first-round draft pick Jalen Ramsey and former Giants corner Prince Amukamara here and there.
No matter the Jaguars’ scheme, Nelson doesn’t think they’ll treat him any differently just because he’s coming off a season-ending knee injury and hasn’t played in so long.
“I don’t. I think they’re going to play their defense,” he said. “There’s nothing you can really do to test a guy. They like to mix it up between press and off. They’re going to play their stuff, and we’ll adjust and play football.”
Held out of training camp until the final two weeks due to the second knee, Nelson didn’t get as much practice and preseason time as he had hoped. He didn’t play in a preseason game and was limited in his on-field workouts until Tuesday, but Nelson doesn’t feel behind at all and isn’t worried about it.
That said, the 2016 Green Bay offense – with a trimmed-down Eddie Lacy, an explosive new tight end in Jared Cook, and a re-dedicated Randall Cobb – hasn’t been fully on display yet.
The last time the Packers looked this strong on paper, they led the league in scoring in 2014 with QB Aaron Rodgers winning his second league MVP, and Cook wasn’t even here.
The unit now has to deal with replacing the departed Josh Sitton at left guard, and JC Tretter is taking over for the injured Corey Linsley at center, but neither development has dampened the possibilities and expectations that have been building for the start of the season.
Nothing has altered Nelson’s focus, either.
“To do my job. That’ll never change,” he said. “It was my thing my first year I got here, and back in college and high school. There’s nothing you can do besides do your job and do it to the best of your ability. That’s all I’m going to worry about.
“As an offense, that’s what it comes down to as well. All 11 of us doing what we’re supposed to do, being consistent with it, not having mistakes, and we’ll be in position to win games every week if we do that.”
For Week 1, simply Nelson’s presence will make the Packers feel they’re in better position to win. It sure beats the alternative.
“I think we’re all looking forward to the sight of 87,” Rodgers said, “back on the field and healthy.”
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