GREEN BAY - Jordy Nelson won’t play Thursday in Kansas City, but the Green Bay Packers receiver expects fewer restrictions in practice this week.
After returning from the physically unable to perform list Aug. 17, Nelson has been limited to individual drills in practice. He said his first team reps could come Monday when the Packers return to Ray Nitschke Field.
They won’t carry the same value as a typical game week. With Nelson missing the Packers' preseason finale, he’ll likely stick to scout-team reps. On scout team, players simulate opponent's players off cue cards.
“At the end of the day,” Nelson said, “it’s running routes, catching balls and going against defenders.”
It’s more than he’s done for the past year.
Nelson hasn’t taken a team rep in practice since tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in the Packers' second preseason game at the Pittsburgh Steelers last season. He started this preseason on the PUP because of a “hiccup” in his left knee.
The goal is for Nelson to be ready to play Sept. 11 when the Packers travel to the Jacksonville Jaguars for their opener. For a player who hasn’t taken a live snap in more than one year, conditioning will be a significant challenge.
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Nelson wouldn’t elaborate when asked Sunday about reasonable expectations in Jacksonville considering the heat and humidity down south and lack of playing time this preseason.
“We’ll find out,” Nelson said.
Nelson has gone through warmups before each of the Packers' last two exhibitions. He said it’s “very beneficial” to go through the pregame script.
“Obviously being out for a year,” Nelson said, “getting back in a routine of what I need to do to get ready for a game. My body now understands what it takes for me to get ready. Dealing with what I’ve dealt with the last year, knowing what I need to do to make sure I’m warmed up. Honestly, we treat it also as part of another practice. I went out beforehand and ran a bunch of routes.
“I go out and run a bunch of routes during warmups, catch some balls. So it was just another day that I could take advantage of being on the field catching the football, running routes instead of just taking the day off.”
Nelson said he enjoyed participating last week in the Packers’ early installations for their game in Jacksonville. It marked a new beginning for their No. 1 receiver, his first meaningful game plan since the 2014 NFC championship game in Seattle.
It’s also a reminder of how long it’s been since Nelson last played significant snaps. With his 20-month gap between games that count, Nelson said he expects to feel nerves leading into Jacksonville.
“I probably will,” he said. “I don’t think it’s a bad thing to have them. To be honest with you, I get them randomly throughout the season if it’s a big game. If it’s a Monday night game, if it’s a big opponent, whatever it might be – a playoff game. They come back every once in a while. I think it’s a good thing. I think it means that you’re excited for the game, to be honest with you.
“I used to get them all the time when I was a kid in high school and college, and obviously after playing the sport for so long, you kind of lose it. But to me, it brings a little extra energy level and a little excitement level, but they’re gone like that (snaps fingers) after one play.”