GREEN BAY — Jordy Nelson is quick to remind everyone that Thursday night was only one small step in the process.
Yet, the Packers’ Pro Bowl receiver couldn’t hide his smile as he jogged onto Lambeau Field to participate in pregame warmups with his teammates for the first time in nearly a year.
Everyone knew Nelson wasn’t going to play after being activated from the physically unable to perform list on Wednesday, but his presence seemed to energize his teammates before their preseason game against Oakland.
Donning his No. 87 jersey, Nelson played around with several teammates, including fellow receiver Randall Cobb, during team stretch before taking his place on the sideline for the Packers’ 20-12 win over the Raiders.
“It’s great to get back out there. Obviously it’s a step in the right direction,” Nelson said. “It’s part of the process when you miss a whole season, to get used to getting dressed before the game again.
“It’s great to have these opportunities these next two weeks after this to do the same thing probably and be prepared going into Week 1, and don’t have to have that on my mind on how to get ready for a game again.”
Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy said Nelson participated in individual drills during Wednesday’s final run-through before Thursday’s game against the Raiders.
Nelson likely will follow a similar regimen leading up to next Friday’s game in San Francisco, according to McCarthy.
Whether Nelson plays against the 49ers is uncertain, but he fully intends on being ready for the Packers’ regular-season opener in Jacksonville on Sept. 11.
Nelson has reiterated that his surgically repaired knee is feeling good with his three-week stint on the PUP list stemming from “a hiccup” with his other knee.
“We’ve just been working through it. It’s nothing that I’ve been worried about,” Nelson said. “We can do a lot of work in here and inside the Hutson Center. Our goal is Week 1 and we’re right where we want to be and need to be, and we have time to get there.”
Predictably, Nelson’s appearance drew a roar from those inside Lambeau Field before kickoff. It also was a special moment for the Packers’ players and coaches who have watched Nelson’s recovery from the knee injury that sidelined him in 2014.
“To see him in pads, it’s been a long time for him,” running back Eddie Lacy said. “Just to go out there and get a quick warmup in for his first day back, I’m pretty sure he feels good; the fans liked it. We just can’t wait to have him back.”
While Nelson and quarterback Aaron Rodgers sat, the Packers’ starting offense was hitting on all cylinders behind Lacy and second-string quarterback Brett Hundley at the start.
Lacy carried the ball nine times for 45 yards during the opening drive, beginning with a 20-yard carry and concluding the series with a leaping 1-yard touchdown over the goal line.
Afterward, Nelson said the 14-play, 74-yard series was “one of the most impressive drives” he’s seen in a preseason game with the drive eating nearly 8 minutes off the clock.
It continued a strong start to the preseason for Lacy, who now has 13 carries for 69 yards and a touchdown in the two exhibition games.
“I’m just trying to continue getting better every day,” Lacy said. “I definitely want this year to be different than last. So far, I think I’m doing a pretty good job at it. I just have to keep it up.”
James Starks, John Crockett and Brandon Burks combined for another 66 yards on 16 carries with Crockett scoring the Packers’ second touchdown on a 10-yard run.
“We’re definitely a passing team, but we want everyone to know we can get physical and run the ball, too,” Lacy said. “The guys up front do a great job of setting that tone.”