GREEN BAY – Jordy Nelson’s goal all along – before the “hiccup” with his other knee, before spending three weeks on the physically unable to perform list, before getting his first public workout during warmups last Thursday – was to be ready for Week 1 in Jacksonville.
That’s still the target, and Nelson said on Monday that he’s still on track for it.
“Yeah, absolutely,” he said. “I don’t think anything’s changed.”
Nelson participated in a training camp practice on Monday for the first time this season, but even he chuckled a little about how much “practice” he actually got.
He was mostly running routes on air, not always at full speed, and catching throws from various quarterbacks. He doesn’t expect that to change much this week, and he has his eye on getting involved in more competitive practice periods next week, but he called it a “fluid situation.”
As for playing in the preseason and taking a hit or two in a game setting before the regular season begins, Nelson has no preference.
“If it’s something we do, it’s fine. If it’s something we don’t do, it’s fine,” he said. “It’s nothing I’m worried about.”
He’s actually more concerned about his conditioning after missing so much time, with it being a full year as of Tuesday since his initial ACL injury.
He said he felt good “wind-wise” for his first day, but playing in the Florida sun in three weeks will be a whole different matter.
Nelson plans to build up to being ready for that as best he can, with the hope he’ll be full-go in practice for the week leading up to the opener.
He’s expecting a similar progression regarding the chemistry with QB Aaron Rodgers as he gets used to Rodgers’ throws, which are “a lot harder and faster” than most.
“It’s going to vary,” Nelson said. “I’m sure everyone is going to pick it apart. If we miss a play here or there, it’s because we missed all last year and training camp.
“I’m a step ahead of everyone here. It was out there, we missed one pass today. We’ll wait and see but I don’t think it’ll be an issue.”
Just how the Packers’ 2016 offense comes together could be a work in progress from here on out. The unit led the NFL in scoring in Nelson’s last season, 2014, and now that he’s back, tight end Jared Cook was added as a free agent, running back Eddie Lacy is in better shape, and the team’s young receivers are looking to improve their games, the possibilities are enticing.
But Nelson stressed that’s all they are for now, possibilities. It’s up to the entire offense to make them realities when the season actually kicks off.
“That’s probably what we thought going into last year, and things happen,” he said. “You can’t ever look too far down the road. Obviously it’s a very talented locker room. We have to put in the work. We have to go out and do what we need to do and execute.
“It’s one of those things. It can look good on paper, but we have to go out and do it, and then we’ll be able to talk about it.”
Hodkiewicz: New title, same focus for JC Tretter
Hodkiewicz: McCarthy: Tretter in position to earn starting job at center
Spofford: Key comments from Packers' assistant coaches