The Packers will play Sunday’s divisional playoff game against the Cowboys without Aaron Rodgers’ most trusted and productive offensive weapon this season. And they seem perfectly fine with that.
Jordy Nelson, who led the Packers in receptions (97), receiving yards (1,257) and touchdown catches (14) during the regular season, was ruled out Friday because of a rib injury he suffered Sunday against the Giants. It will be the first full game the Packers will play without him lining up this season, but if last week’s performance is any indication, his absence shouldn’t slow down the Green Bay offense much.
Nelson left last week’s game early in the second quarter after taking a hit from defensive back Leon Hall in the midsection. All of the Packers’ 38 points and 330 of Rodgers’ 362 passing yards came after his injury.
The Packers were not exactly holding out hope that Nelson would play this week anyway. Rodgers said earlier in the week that he was hopeful of having Nelson back for a potential NFC title game on Jan. 22.
To get there, the Packers will have to rely on the rest of their receivers: Randall Cobb, Davante Adams and Geronimo Allison, along with tight ends Jared Cook and Richard Rodgers. Adams had a team-high eight catches for 125 yards and a touchdown against the Giants. Cobb, in his first game back from an ankle injury, caught five passes for 116 yards and three touchdowns.
“I feel like we’re a dangerous group no matter who is down because we have a lot of depth and a lot of guys who can step up and make plays,” Adams said. “I’m ready for as big a role as I need to play. Obviously, my quarterback has a lot of faith in me.”
He earned that faith two years ago when the Packers faced the Cowboys in a divisional-round playoff game at Lambeau Field. Dez Bryant’s catch that wasn’t overshadowed Adams’ rookie breakout game with seven catches for 117 yards and a touchdown.
“I think he’s come a long way,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “I think he’s having a great year. He’ll obviously have a lot of opportunities and I’m sure they’re going to give him attention that he may not have seen if Jordy played.”
The Packers will give him their attention, too.
“You just tilt opportunities the other way,” McCarthy said of designing the offense without Nelson. “That’s the way you always have to approach these types of situations any time you have a player of his magnitude who’s not available. That’s all part of developing a game plan. You have to do that during the early stages of the week. We anticipated potentially not having him this week, so we’ll be prepared for that.”