GREEN BAY – If wide receiver Geronimo Allison takes coaching on the field this week as well as he took it off the field, the Green Bay Packers should have no worries about taking him to Dallas this weekend.
And make no mistake, they’re going to need him.
Although Jordy Nelson hasn’t been ruled out of the divisional playoff game Sunday at AT&T Stadium, there wasn’t a lot of optimism that he would be able to play this soon after breaking two ribs against the New York Giants.
Nelson didn’t practice, but he was at the facility taking part in meetings and taking part in rehab.
“I was with him last night and the night before,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. “He’s staying positive and he’s hopeful. We’re going to try to get this one and hopefully get him back (the following week).”
Nelson’s likely absence opens the door for Allison to continue his short string of games as a regular in the Packers' offense. But before he does that, he had to face reporters for the first time since the Journal Sentinel reported he had been charged in Manitowoc County with misdemeanor possession of marijuana on Dec. 15, 2016.
Allison stuck to his script whenever he was asked about the charges.
“It’s an ongoing legal matter. I can’t address it right now,” he replied twice when asked about the circumstances of his arrest Sept. 4.
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Allison faces his first court appointment on Jan. 23 and until then neither the Packers nor the NFL are inclined to mete out any punishment. Thus, Allison will be in uniform for the game Sunday and he won’t be a bystander.
The Packers have tight end Jared Cook and receivers Davante Adams and Randall Cobb to pick up the slack for Nelson, but Allison has been logging starter-like snaps the past three weeks and has become a reliable outlet for Rodgers.
He has nine catches for 165 yards and a touchdown playing 145 snaps over the last three games.
“If Jordy can’t go, it’s a big opportunity for me to go in there and make the most of it, try to be successful and just execute the game plan,” Allison said. “It’s a big game for us. We know what’s at stake. We just want to go out there, execute and be victorious.”
Allison drew an uncharacteristically large media throng around his locker Wednesday, which didn’t go unnoticed by other players. But when asked if he thought news of his arrest was a distraction, Allison said, “It’s not.”
If anything, it has temporarily taken some of the focus off Nelson, the Packers’ leading receiver whose injury occurred from taking a helmet to the ribs from Giants safety Leon Hall while leaping to make a catch. Nelson played only 16 snaps, but the Packers didn’t seem to miss him.
Rodgers threw for 362 yards and four touchdowns.
Adams and Cobb both had 100-yard receiving games and Cook pulled in five catches for 48 yards. The offense seemed to handle Nelson’s loss a whole lot better than it did a year ago after he tore his ACL in an exhibition game.
“We're doing a lot of different things than we were last year, a lot of things better,” Rodgers said. “I think our offensive line is playing better. Our scheme has advanced, and we're getting more contributions from the tight end at this point.
“Richard (Rodgers) and Jared are making plays for us, and I think we're a little deeper at receiver now with the emergence of Geronimo.”
In the Week 6 meeting between the Packers and Cowboys, Nelson caught just five passes for 68 yards and lost a fumble. In a divisional playoff game against the Cowboys during the 2014 season, he caught just two passes for 22 yards.
Rodgers and Nelson have been a formidable duo during the Packers’ seven-game winning streak, producing three 100-yard receiving games and five touchdowns. The offense seems better built to withstand the loss of any one player other than Rodgers, but the Cowboys appear more focused on stopping the offense than stopping one player.
“We have great respect for Jordy Nelson,” coach Jason Garrett said. “He’s been such a good player for such a long time. He and Aaron Rodgers have such a good feel for each other. His production over the course of his career and this year speaks for itself.
“The biggest thing we try to do is focus on ourselves. They have a lot of weapons in their receiving corps, at their skill positions outside of Jordy Nelson. We understand the challenge we face on Sunday.”