One team’s injured marquee wide receiver will be “ready to rock,” according to his coach. The other team’s coach is a little less certain.
The day after the NFC Championship Game sides were set and the over/unders for the anticipated offensive fireworks skyrocketed, the status of Julio Jones and Jordy Nelson was on the mind of each coach Monday.
Falcons coach Dan Quinn said Jones will be limited in practices this week with a toe injury but is expected to be ready for Sunday’s gateway game to Super Bowl LI.
“For us, we’re going to stick with the same plan: We’ll limit him throughout the week, and then as the week progresses, we’ll give him a little more at the end,” Quinn said. “He’s excited to play, but we’ll make sure he gets the looks that are really specific to him. For him and his foot, he’ll be ready to rock.”
Jones first injured his toe in Week 13 and aggravated it in Saturday’s divisional playoff game against the Seahawks. He had six catches for 67 yards and a touchdown against Seattle but did not finish the game.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy, meanwhile, was decidedly less optimistic about his star pass-catcher. Nelson suffered a rib injury in the wild-card game against the Giants and missed Sunday’s divisional playoff game against Dallas. He said he was not sure if Nelson will be cleared to practice when the team returns to practice tomorrow.
“He did all the work in the workout today,” McCarthy said of the light practice, “so that’s a good sign.”
Nelson, who traveled with the team to Dallas, was non-commital when asked by reporters after the win if he will play Sunday. “There’s no guarantees,” he told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “We’re a whole week away.”
Nelson led the Packers with 97 catches, 14 touchdowns and 1,257 yards in the regular season.
Regardless of whether the two All-Pro receivers play — or play at full strength — the game figures to be dominated by the offenses, with two of the likeliest candidates for NFL Most Valuable Player, Matt Ryan and Aaron Rodgers, flinging the ball around the Georgia Dome. The teams played in Atlanta in Week 8 and the Falcons won, 33-32.
“The NFC Championship Game is a beast, it always is,” said Quinn, who was defensive coordinator for two of them with the Seahawks and is making his debut as a head coach. “Wherever you go, whenever you play, it’s a battle.”
Notes & quotes: Quinn confirmed that DT Adrian Clayborn will miss the rest of the playoffs with a biceps tear suffered Saturday. “We’re totally bummed for AC,” Quinn said . . . The win in Dallas took a toll on the Packers’ already perilous health. Besides Nelson, Green Bay will be monitoring S Morgan Burnett (quadriceps), WR Davante Adams (ankle), LT David Bakhtiari (knee) and CB Quinten Rollins (neck, concussion). “The injuries are higher than normal,” McCarthy said. “I think that’s our league. It has been for us this year. We had a bye after Week 3, and boy, we needed it. We’ve been in some level of that mode all season. That’s just kind of the year we’ve had.”