GREEN BAY - If there were any reason to doubt that the Green Bay Packers will be severely short-handed on offense against the Atlanta Falcons come Sunday, coach Mike McCarthy erased it Thursday morning.
McCarthy didn’t rule out receivers Jordy Nelson (ribs), Davante Adams (ankle) and Geronimo Allison (hamstring), but he indicated they definitely would be ruled out if this weren’t the NFC championship game.
"They’re still working," McCarthy said. "They’re mentally getting ready. This is an injury threshold all three of those guys have, Jordy, Davante and Geronimo. They all have three distinctly different injuries.
"In the regular-season mindset, I would think none of them would play in this game. But obviously this is a different time, this is a different point where we are in the season. Everybody understands what’s on the line here."
The reason they wouldn't play in the regular season is for fear of aggravating the injury and missing more than just a week or two. In this case, it's Super Bowl or bust.
Nelson took part in pre-practice drills with the offense, running routes at half speed and catching passes without being covered. He was not wearing shoulder pads so he wasn't scheduled to take part in the full-speed work, but it was the first sign that he's able to do some football activity.
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Adams, who did not practice at all, told reporters he is dealing with an ankle sprain in a different area than the one he suffered last season. He will continue to rehab throughout the week and audition for the coaches Saturday if possible, assuming he can push through the pain.
“It’s just a matter of how much that I can put up with,” Adams said, “and go out there to where I’m able to be myself and express myself in my routes the way I do and not hurt the team by being out there. So I’m just going to do what I can to make sure I can be available and then after that we’ll see.”
Like Adams, the rookie Allison did not practice at all. But even if all three of their injured receivers are unable to go, the Packers have no plans to sign someone off the street.
They will roll the dice with youthful and inexperienced players should the situation arise.
"No, we’re confident with everybody we have here," McCarthy said. "Our plan is set. If these guys make it, it will be a bonus."
That means Jeff Janis and rookie Trevor Davis are preparing to have big roles this week. If the game turns into a track meet, as many think it will, the Packers will have to rotate players in and out and won't be able to just rely on Randall Cobb, Jared Cook and possibly Ty Montgomery to play all the snaps.
Janis has one catch in the last seven games and Davis had all three of his receptions this season in Week 8 against the Falcons, including his only touchdown of the year.
"I’m not really concerned today because you have to put the plan in," McCarthy said. "I’m not sure how we’re going to line up or who’s going to line up. We’ll hopefully have a better gauge if we think these guys are going to make it. I don’t think we’ll really know until Saturday.
"We just have to do it like we always have, get Trevor ready, obviously Randall and Jeff are the three focal points right now."
Michael Cohen of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel contributed to this report.