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The hip never bothered Jordy Nelson during games, but the Green Bay Packers receiver felt the pain standing at his locker afterward.

Nelson said he had a "hip impingement," a genetic issue that gradually worsened over time. Eventually, he needed surgery this offseason to get the hip "cleaned out."

Already, Nelson said, the surgery has made a significant difference.

"Over years and years of playing sports," Nelson said, "it's just rubbing together and had some issues. So just needed cleaned out. I never necessarily bothered me, it was just postgames and stuff I could feel more. But by the time of Wednesday's practice, I was good. By the time Sunday was here, I was fine.

"It was more of a recovery thing, and needed to get cleaned out, so we're good."

Hip surgery prevented Nelson from going through a full practice until Thursday, the Packers first day of training camp. Nelson was able to run routes by the end of the team's offseason program last month, but he was limited during organized team activities and minicamp.

Now, Nelson has no more restrictions. He passed his training camp physical Wednesday morning. On Thursday, he said the hip has felt good for a while.

"You could tell the difference the day I got out of surgery," Nelson said, "and obviously then it was taking care of it and making sure it was healing correctly and not getting back on it too quick. It's more of a process, but you could tell a difference. The docs could tell a difference.

"You saw during OTAs, I was running routes and doing stuff. So everything was good. It was just being smart. What I was going to gain in the one practice I would have had in minicamp, was it worth what I could have lost? So we're being smart with it, and being sure we were going to be ready for training camp in Week 1."

Nelson's return to practice was perhaps the most noteworthy sight during Thursday's opening day of training camp. He was a first-time Pro Bowler last season, finishing with 98 catches, 1,519 yards and 13 touchdowns. Only 30 years old, he's still in the prime of his career.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the reigning NFL MVP, had some fun at his fellow star teammate's expense Thursday.

"Was he out there?" Rodgers asked jokingly when a reporter mentioned Nelson.

Then the quarterback looked toward Nelson's locker.

"Yeah," Rodgers said, "Jordy's a stud. He's a top player, and it's great having him out there."

-rwood@gannett.com and follow him on Twitter @ByRyanWood

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