The Green Bay Packers are heavily favored to win the NFC North title in 2015. However, it will now be a little tougher for them to do so after learning that Jordy Nelson has a torn ACL and will miss the entire season.
The wide receiver made a catch in a preseason game with Pittsburgh, planted, then went to turn, before falling down untouched. The Packers feared the worst, and it appears that their fears are confirmed after the official MRI came back today.
Nelson is coming off a career year in 2014, where he caught 98 passes for 1,519 yards and 13 touchdowns. Three of the past four seasons have seen the former Kansas State product tally 1,263 receiving yards or more, making him a critical part of Green Bay’s offense. Nelson’s production is a big reason why quarterback Aaron Rodgers won the MVP award last season.
Now the big question will be who can fill in for some of Nelson’s lost production. Randall Cobb might see an even bigger uptick in production, if that’s possible. Last year he caught 91 passes for 1,287 yards and 12 TDs, giving the Packers an incredible 1-2 punch.
Second-year receiver Davante Adams will no doubt have a larger role in the offense. Adams’ role continued to grow throughout last season, and he ended with 38 catches for 446 yards and three touchdowns. He’ll no doubt have an opportunity to expand these numbers in the 2015 NFL season.
Tight end Richard Rodriguez and running backs Eddie Lacy and James Starks could have prominent roles in the passing game as well to help offset Nelson’s loss.
One other option would be bringing in a free agent, although general manager Ted Thompson isn’t a big player on the free-agent market. If Thompson does look around for free agents, he might be interested in Reggie Wayne, who most recently visited the New England Patriots.
One thing is for sure, though: at this point, there’s nobody in the league whom Green Bay could just pick up that would make up for losing Nelson. The only saving grace is that they still have Rodgers at quarterback and a very good offensive line.
As for Rodgers, he will attempt to pick up where he left off after throwing for 4,381 yards, 38 touchdowns and only 5 interceptions. Rodgers added 269 rushing yards and two more scores. Duplicating this feat and winning the MVP award again may prove more difficult, especially the miraculous feat of throwing just 5 INT’s on 520 pass attempts.