Packers can overcome Jordy Nelson injury
Early in the Packers-Steelers preseason game Sunday, Jordy Nelson sustained a knee injury that is now being reported as a season-ending torn ACL.
If Nelson misses the entire season, that is obviously a huge blow to the Packers’ offense. With a PFF rating of 87, Nelson ranked as the seventh-best wide receiver in the league heading into the season. The news isn’t as devastating to the Packers as it would be to another team, however, because of how many high-quality players they have on offense.
Green Bay still has slot receiver Randall Cobb, who actually ranked higher than Nelson with a PFF rating of 88.5 (fourth-highest among wide receivers). With Nelson out, Cobb should easily lead the team in targets, and given how efficient he is as a route-runner, pass-catcher and runner after the catch, that should lead to big raw numbers.
The player who will have the most pressure on him is second-year player Davante Adams, who will become the Packers’ top outside wide receiver. Over the last three games of the 2014 season he was seeing 90 percent of snaps, so it will mainly be his targets that will see an increase in Nelson’s absence, rather than his time on the field.
In the regular season last year, Adams was unimpressive on a per-play basis. This was largely because he was only targeted on 13.3 percent of his routes, which was second-lowest in the NFL among 90 qualifying receivers. Aaron Rodgers had an NFL passer rating of 92.5 when throwing to Adams. This is right around league average, and much lower than the 128.2 passer rating Rodgers had when throwing to Nelson.
When Nelson went down versus Pittsburgh, Jeff Janis took over the other outside receiver spot. The second-year receiver only saw 15 regular-season snaps as a rookie. He could very well match that total by the end of the first quarter of the Packers’ Week 1 game. Third-round rookie Ty Montgomery might also see an increase in playing time compared to what was expected. He is a big-time threat after the catch, having forced 17 missed tackles on his catches in college, which was tied for fourth-best among draft eligible Power 5 wide receivers.
Outside of these receivers, Green Bay still has one of the best running backs in the league in Eddie Lacy, one of the best offensive lines, and the best QB in the league in Rodgers. The Packers are still a Super Bowl contender, and will still be able to function at a high level on offense — just not at as high of a level as they could before Nelson’s injury.