GREEN BAY – For the first time since suffering a season-ending knee injury last August, Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson is cleared to return to practice.
Nelson officially was listed on the NFL transaction wire as having passed his physical Wednesday, meaning he is off the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. He's unlikely to play Thursday when the Packers host the Oakland Raiders in their second preseason game. It's uncertain whether Nelson could see any action against the San Francisco 49ers on Aug. 26 or against the Kansas City Chiefs in the preseason finale Sept. 1.
The Packers will need to balance the risk of having Nelson suffer another preseason-game injury against the need to get their Pro Bowl receiver back in action and working with the offense.
Nelson, who missed all of the 2015 season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, has been sidelined during all of training camp after sustaining what he called a “hiccup” in his left knee. The ninth-year veteran said at the time that his goal was to be ready for the regular-season opener Sept. 11 at Jacksonville.
“I’m not worried about it," Nelson said of the new injury on the first day of camp July 26. "That’s the great thing. If it was something more serious, I’d kind of be a little more nervous. It’s something that’s not a big deal. Obviously, everyone likes to be healthy, and I’ve already had a year off. So I don’t need any more time, but it’s part of the game.”
Nelson’s return has the potential to revitalize what was a disappointing Packers offense last season. In 2014, Nelson caught 98 passes for 1,519 yards and 13 touchdowns. He tore the ACL in his right knee during Green Bay's second preseason game last Aug. 23 and hasn't played in a game that counted since the 2014 NFC championship game at Seattle.