this Aug. 8, 2015, file photo, Green Bay Packers’ Aaron
Rodgers, left, and Jordy Nelson talk during the Green Bay
Packers Family Fun Night NFL football training camp practice in
Green Bay, Wis. Few receivers are as important to their teams as
Nelson is to Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay. Nelson injured his
left knee in a preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on
Sunday, Aug. 23, 2015.
GREEN BAY — The
task of finding receivers who will fill the void left by Jordy
Nelson's season-ending injury has started in earnest in Green Bay.
Coach Mike McCarthy
said no one man can pick up the slack.
Randall Cobb caught
91 passes last year from MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers, second on the
team to Nelson's 98. Now Cobb is clearly the top option with Nelson
out with a right knee injury.
But that doesn't
necessarily change Cobb's role.
"I think it's
very important for everybody — Randall, the coaches — just to stay
focused on what we need to do," McCarthy said Wednesday before
practice, "and that's not try to ask or put pressure on any
individual to try to do more."
Not that Cobb would
necessarily slide into Nelson's exact role anyway. They were used
differently last season.
England Patriots defenders Robert McClain (22) and Cameron
Gordon (45) chase down Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall
Cobb (18) during the first half of an NFL preseason football
game Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015, in Foxborough, Mass.
The 6-foot-3 Nelson
excelled especially at catching deep balls from Rodgers and making
tough catches along the sideline as if he was walking a tightrope. The
5-foot-10 Cobb did much of his damage over the middle and became a
go-to option for Rodgers on third downs.
"Every player on
offense has a distinct role," McCarthy said. "We all
understand the type of player Jordy is, but we're not asking any of
our receivers or any of our offensive players now to go out and try to
replace Jordy Nelson. That's not the plan."
On Twitter this week,
Cobb wrote that Nelson was one of the most influential teammates that
he has had on and off the field, and that he was dedicating this
season to Nelson.
"They better not
have a bad one," Nelson joked Tuesday in the locker room, a pair
of crutches sitting behind him on a table.
Cobb will miss that
camaraderie on the field on Sundays.
"First off, you
can't replace Jordy Nelson," Cobb said. "He's an
unbelievable player ... it's going to be really a challenge for us as
a group to try to make up where ends meet."
Cobb celebrated his
25th birthday on Saturday. Entering his fifth year in the league, he's
already the most tenured player on the receiving corps with Nelson
out; Nelson called that "weird."
Cobb appears to be
setting a high standard on the practice field. While teammates were
running through one special teams drill on Tuesday, Cobb was off to
the sideline lying on his back but with his head bent upward and arms
out, to catch footballs from a machine.
Cobb repeated this
drill for several minutes, turning his body and head every so often to
catch passes from the ground at different angles.
second-year player Davante Adams would by the next most-experienced
player with 38 receptions during his promising 2014 rookie season.
Ty Montgomery, a
third-round pick this year out of Stanford, has impressed so far in
camp. Myles White has the speed to go deep, while the 6-foot-3 Jeff
Janis has size, but both young players have seen very limited action.
players in this game sometimes, and you have to go on," general
manager Ted Thompson said Wednesday. "But you have extraordinary
players, someone like Jordy. With an extraordinary player you don't
expect to replace the person ... one for one or anything like
The typically guarded
Thompson gave no indication as to whether he would look into veteran
help specifically at receiver as teams start making more cuts over the
next few weeks. He said the Packers are always studying rosters across
the league at every position.
"I think it will
command the work of the entire offense and the entire team to make up
for that loss," Thompson added. "But that's our goal going
forward is to be able to win games, be successful in spite of the very
disappointing injury. It's as simple as that. It's as difficult as