PITTSBURGH – No one in the locker room was speculating on the immediate future of Jordy Nelson, but his fellow Packers receivers believe they have enough depth to get the job done should more be asked of them.
“We have a lot of guys that know what to do out there,” Davante Adams said following Sunday’s 24-19 preseason loss to the Steelers at Heinz Field. “The rookies, the guys that have been here and haven’t played as much, everybody has something to offer.”
Nelson left the game on the opening series after making his second catch on the drive. After a leap, he landed awkwardly and limped off the field, later walking to the locker room without any noticeable issues.
The Packers’ No. 1 receiver and Pro Bowler never returned to the sideline, though, and his teammates were especially tight-lipped after the game.
Nelson’s partner atop the depth chart, Randall Cobb, said he sat with Nelson in the locker room at halftime and talked with him, but he didn’t divulge anything that was said.
“I’m just hoping everything’s all right with Jordy,” Cobb said. “I haven’t really thought about any of the other stuff right now.”
Adams added that everyone on the team is hoping and praying for good news.
“We don’t really know. You can’t really bank on the worst or the best,” he said. “You just have to sit around and wait, and see what’s going on. From there, people have to step up and do what they have to do, or if he’s back and everything is fine, then we’ll just be right back to where we were.”
If everything isn’t fine, then Adams is the first one whose role expands. The second-year pro, who had breakout games as a rookie in the Packers’ two biggest wins last season over New England and Dallas, was already preparing to take on more.
“I like where I’m at but I want to keep improving every week,” he said. “I feel like I’m in a good position, and I want to keep working and elevating my game regardless.”
Next in line would be rookie third-round draft pick Ty Montgomery, who has been one of the standouts in training camp. Montgomery’s impact in the first two preseason games has been minimal, but he’ll certainly get more snaps the rest of this month, no matter what the final diagnosis is on Nelson.
Montgomery referred to Nelson as a “big influence” on his game and an “approachable” team leader, and he has appreciated the guidance Nelson has given him when asked.
“Talking about the depth, I think we’ve got it,” Montgomery said. “We’ve got a lot of guys in the room that can make plays and do a lot of things well.”
Two receivers the Packers will continue to find out more about are Myles White and Jeff Janis. Each had an up-and-down day on Sunday in Pittsburgh, and their focus in any event was to develop more consistency.
With Nelson on the field, the No. 1 offense put together its best drive of the two preseason games so far, marching 80 yards in 10 plays for a touchdown to open the game. Four plays after Nelson departed, Eddie Lacy ran 7 yards for the score, and James Starks took a handoff for the two-point conversion.
Green Bay’s other touchdown came on a 21-yard pass from backup QB Scott Tolzien to tight end Richard Rodgers, another pass-catcher who is primed for improvement in his second season, regardless of Nelson’s status.
Plays like Rodgers’, who darted across the middle and then split the secondary after the catch to dive across the goal line, are why the post-game concern in the locker room was more for Nelson personally than the team as a whole. There were no looks of despair or crises of confidence forthcoming.
“Depending on what the situation is, we’ll figure it out when the time comes,” Cobb said.
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