Jordy Nelson not blaming his injury for Packers' struggles

Jordy Nelson's recovery from surgery is ahead of schedule and he should be ready to go by training camp next summer. AP Photo/Matt Ludtke

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Jordy Nelson hasn't been watching the Green Bay Packers' struggling offense and wondering how it would be different if he were healthy.

He also doesn't think his absence is the reason for the Packers' problems, even if he might be the only one who believes that.

"I think that's the easy thing to say now," Nelson said Tuesday as his teammates prepared for Thursday night's game at Detroit. "What's the big difference between this year and last year? Yeah, I guess I would be the one missing piece from last year. But I think every year is still different."

This year has certainly been different for the Packers' once-potent passing game. Nelson, who made the Pro Bowl last season after posting a career-high 98 receptions for a franchise-record 1,519 yards with 13 touchdowns, suffered a season-ending torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during an Aug. 23 preseason game at Pittsburgh. And those involved in the Packers' 23rd-ranked passing offense, from quarterback Aaron Rodgers on down, have pointed to Nelson's injury as the beginning of the unit's troubles, even during a 6-0 start and long before the team lost four of its past five games.

"I don't think that's what's going on," Nelson said. "I think guys aren't making the plays they're able to make. When you look at the Minnesota game, guys made plays and they put up 30 points against one of the top defenses in the NFC. Then the next game, they don't make the plays and we struggle."

In the Packers' 30-13 victory over the Vikings on Nov. 22, James Jones caught six passes for 108 yards and a touchdown, but wide receivers Randall Cobb (two catches, 24 yards) and Davante Adams (three receptions, 36 yards) and tight end Richard Rodgers (three receptions, 7 yards) weren't productive that day.

"You want to be out there to help, but there's nothing I can do about it," Nelson said. "I don't stress over things that I have no control over."

Nelson's post-surgery recovery is ahead of schedule, and he said he should be ready for training camp next summer. He's now far enough out from surgery that he's been able to come to practice every day and help coach the receivers, including Adams, who caught just two passes for 14 yards despite being targeted 11 times and dropped three passes in the Packers' 17-13 loss to Chicago last Thursday. One of those drops was on a wide-open play in which Adams probably would have scored from 47 yards out.

Adams, who moved into the starting lineup following Nelson's injury and missed essentially four games with an early-season ankle injury, has 32 receptions for 322 yards and no touchdowns with five games left in the regular season.

"We've had conversations, but every receiver's been there," said Nelson, who dropped what would have been an 80-yard touchdown pass in a loss at Buffalo late last season. "I went through it last year after we lost to Buffalo. We've all been there, we've all had those games. The only thing you can do is go play the next one."