When Jordy Nelson went down with a knee injury in Green Bay’s preseason loss to Pittsburgh on Sunday, the Packers lost more than the 98 catches, 1,519 yards and 13 touchdowns Nelson had a year ago.
They lost one of the best – if not the best – quarterback-receiver relationships in the NFL.
“They became really good friends awhile back and that friendship has grown not only on the field but off the field,” Milwaukee 105.7 radio host Bill Michaels said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “When you just get in sync with somebody – Joe Montana had Jerry Rice and he always knew where he was going to be. Michael Irvin was with Troy Aikman. He always knew where he was going to be. You can go through the list of great quarterbacks, but they always had that great guy with them. Jordy Nelson has been like that ever since he came into the league with Aaron Rodgers, so it’s going to be hard to replace that.”
Rodgers will still have plenty of weapons at his disposal, including Randall Cobb and Davante Adams, but Michaels expect another Packer to emerge in Green Bay’s aerial attack.
His name? Rodgers. Richard Rodgers. The Cal product had 20 catches for 225 yards and two touchdowns in limited action at tight end last season.
“If I’m a fantasy football player and I’m looking at the Packers, the guy that everybody says has the best hands in camp – and from what we’ve seen, that’s probably going to hold to be true – is going to be a guy like Richard Rodgers,” Michaels said. “He’s going to take that next step forward. He came in last year as a rookie, impressed a few people (and) he split time with Andrew Quarless. But now I think you’re going to see that tight end position become more involved in the offense.”
Whoever emerges for the Packers will have to earn (Aaron) Rodgers’ respect. Jeff Janis, for example, opened a lot of eyes with his raw speed in training camp last year.
Then he finished the season with two catches for 16 yards.
“He just doesn’t do the little things,” Michaels said. “Aaron Rodgers is extremely conscious of you doing the little things. If it’s a 7-yard out, it’s a 7-yard out. It’s not 6, it’s not 5, it’s not 8. It’s a 7-yard out. That’s the way he is. But the one thing about it: You can replace the athleticism, but Jordy Nelson rides to work every day with Aaron Rodgers. They’re friends. They hang out together. And if you notice . . . Aaron Rodgers likes to kind of get out of the pocket and make things happen a little bit – and more often than not, the guy that knows where to be and (who’s) kind of mentally in sync with (Rodgers) is Jordy Nelson. You can’t just teach that to somebody. So somebody’s really going to have to step up and spend some time getting on the same page with Aaron Rodgers.”