Preseason balancing act begins for Nelson, Rodgers

Weston Hodkiewicz
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Jordy Nelson's career year in 2013 makes it's easy to forget he played all of two snaps during last year's preseason.

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson passes during warmups at Family Night at Lambeau Field on Saturday, Aug. 2, 2014.  Kyle Bursaw / Press-Gazette Media

Two running plays, actually.

After knee surgery knocked him out for the first month of training camp, the Green Bay Packers receiver made his preseason debut against Kansas City and stepped off the field after an Eddie Lacy 1-yard run 45 seconds later. His work was done.

Nelson then played in all 16 regular-season games and responded with new career-highs in both receptions (85) and receiving yards (1,314). Last month, the Packers extended his contract for four years with an $11.5 million signing bonus.

He sat out of the Packers' 20-16 loss to Tennessee last weekend with a hamstring injury, but returned to practice on Tuesday and appeared to be a full participant on Wednesday. He declined to comment on the injury.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy said quarterback Aaron Rodgers will suit up against the St. Louis Rams in Saturday's second preseason game, though Nelson said he was unsure whether he'll do the same. Either way, the 29-year-old veteran entering his seventh NFL season isn't fretting about how much he steps onto the field.

"I don't think it matters," Nelson said after practice on Wednesday. "I've been here long enough. I'm not saying you don't need to play in them because I think if you're healthy you should. You don't want to miss time. But I don't think the chemistry between Aaron and I is going to be made or broken off a few plays in St. Louis."

One receiver who could use the extra work is second-round rookie Davante Adams, who returned to practice on Wednesday after missing two days with a wrist injury, which occurred on the second of two muffed punts against the Titans.

Adams returned two punts in two seasons at Fresno State. He hadn't been doing it much during team periods of practice, but special-teams coach Shawn Slocum said he wanted to see what he could do in the rain in Tennessee.

The results bordered on disastrous. After recovering his first muffed punt, Adams wasn't as fortunate with the second. Tennessee recovered at the Packers' 14-yard line. On its first play of the series, running back Shonn Greene rushed in for a touchdown.

"Guys have to step up and play and have to do things sometimes without practice, particularly on special teams," Slocum said. "Again, he had two bad things happen to him and he responded well after that."

Rodgers played three series in the Packers' second preseason game in St. Louis last year and was near-perfect in completing 10 of 12 passes for 134 yards, though the offense settled for field-goal attempts on all three series.

However, he was sacked once by Robert Quinn. The Rams still possess one of the best defensive fronts in football, so assuming Rodgers plays, it will again be a chess match of trying to get him enough reps while walking out unharmed.

"Like anybody else, he needs his rhythm and timing in game situations," Van Pelt said. "Lead the offense down the field and take control like he always does. Get them in, get them out and move forward just so he feels comfortable with his own rhythm and timing in game situations. … We're planning on seeing him and hopefully see some nice clean drives down the field and get the heck out of there."

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