They’re just going to have to take Nelson at his word that he’s ready for the Sept. 11 opener at Jacksonville.
“I’m ready to go,” Nelson said an interview during the broadcast of Thursday’s preseason finale at Kansas City. “We’ve got a week of practice left. This week was a normal week for me. Next week will be the same.”
For the third consecutive preseason game, Nelson went through pregame warm-ups but then changed into street clothes and watched from the sideline. With Nelson spectating, tight end Jared Cook showed what he can add to the offense with a 5-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter in the 17-7 loss to the Chiefs that left the Packers with a 3-1 preseason record.
Receiver Jared Abbrederis had the Packers’ biggest play, a 40-yard reception, but as the Packers saw last season, they need a healthy Nelson in order to get their offense back to what it was in 2014, before his injury.
Nelson did full team drills (11-on-11) for the first time in practice Monday and Tuesday after doing only individual drills the previous week. Nelson said his biggest concern was not his surgically repaired right ACL but rather whether his conditioning will be game-ready for the heat he's expecting in Jacksonville.
QB depth chart: Aaron Rodgers, of course, did not play. He hasn’t suited up for a preseason finale since 2012. Brett Hundley was in uniform but did not play, giving his sprained ankle another week to heal. So it was the Joe Callahan show again. Although the offense had trouble sustaining drives, Callahan made enough impressive throws that the Packers could be worried about losing him if they release him with the hope of bringing him back on the practice squad. Callahan showed remarkable touch on the touchdown pass to Cook and threw the deep ball well -- one to Abbrederis for a long completion and another that Ty Montgomery couldn’t haul in. Callahan finished 13-of-24 for 143 yards and one touchdown without an interception. For the preseason, the undrafted rookie was 54-of-88 for 499 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions, for a preseason passer rating of 88.2.
Who got hurt: Rookie receiver Trevor Davis sustained a shoulder injury on the game’s opening drive. It happened on his 13-yard catch along the right sideline. The fifth-round pick stayed in for the rest of the drive but did not return after that. Fellow rookie Kentrell Brice, an undrafted free agent who looked like a lock to make the roster at safety, left in the second quarter with a right ankle injury but returned. Rookie offensive lineman Kyle Steuck left in the fourth quarter with an undisclosed injury. He was carted to the locker room.
Abbrederis makes his mark: Abbrederis should make the Packers’ roster coming out of the preseason for the first time. In addition to his long reception, he returned a punt 42 yards in the second quarter. The fifth-round pick in 2014 missed his entire rookie season with a torn ACL and was cut at the end of preseason last year. After a stint on the practice squad, he was elevated to the roster early last season.
Ball hawk: If the last roster spot at cornerback comes down to Robertson Daniel and Josh Hawkins, it will be difficult for general manager Ted Thompson to ignore the two interceptions Hawkins made in four preseason games. Hawkins picked off an Aaron Murray pass in the third quarter. An undrafted free agent from East Carolina, Hawkins picked off Oakland’s Connor Cook earlier in the preseason. Daniel spent most of last season on the practice squad before he was elevated to the active roster in the playoffs.
No No. 3 back: Neither Brandon Burks nor Brandon Ross showed much to distinguish himself in the bid to be the third running back behind Eddie Lacy and James Starks (Lacy and Starks didn't play). Burks fumbled in the third quarter, which was the Packers' first fumble of the preseason by a running back. Perhaps Thompson will look elsewhere for a third back, or maybe he will go with just two halfbacks plus fullback Aaron Ripkowski, given that the team has used receivers Randall Cobb and Montgomery out of the backfield in spots.
Punting debut: Jake Schum, claimed off waivers from Tampa Bay on Tuesday in favor of Tim Masthay, got off to a solid start. He averaged 4.61 seconds of hang time on eight punts and finished with three inside the 20 and one touchback with a gross average of 45.5 yards. He held for Mason Crosby on his only kick, an extra point, without an issue.