PITTSBURGH — None of the Packers were coming out and saying it, but the looks on their faces and the words coming out of their mouths seemed to confirm the suspicion.
Wide receiver Jordy Nelson is out for the season.
NFL Network reported that the Packers’ medical staff thinks Nelson, a Kansas State product, tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee after landing awkwardly during the first quarter of the Packers’ 24-19 exhibition loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday afternoon.
Coach Mike McCarthy would not reveal what preliminary tests revealed and said he would wait until an MRI is performed Monday before commenting. But he answered a question about the seriousness of Nelson’s injury by talking about how much he thinks of his veteran both as a receiver and a person.
“I’m just in a position of listening to all the information,” McCarthy said of reports from the doctors. “Until we get back to Green Bay and do scans and things like that. …
“I mean, Jordy Nelson is a key member of our football program, both on the field and off the field, probably more so off the field. Jordy is a great player, he’s tremendous in the locker room, he’s a tremendous family man. Yes, he’s a key member and we’re looking for good news tomorrow. That’s my mindset.”
Nelson wasn’t the only one injured. Starting right guard T.J. Lang and backup quarterback Scott Tolzien both suffered concussions. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers had to ice down his wrist after getting sacked for a safety and linebacker Adrian Hubbard and cornerback Damarious Randall had to leave to receive IV liquids.
A year ago, the Packers lost nose tackle B.J. Raji (biceps), tackle Don Barclay (knee) and receiver Jared Abbrederis (knee) to season-ending injuries during training camp. Nelson’s injury is the first significant one the Packers have suffered this summer.
“This is a sport we’re all going to be injured at some point,” Rodgers said. “It’s a 100 percent injury rate for every player. You’re going to deal with it. You just hate to see it in the preseason because it doesn’t count for anything.”
Nelson caught a quick hitch to the right side on second and 5 at the Pittsburgh 25 on the game’s opening possession. Cornerback Antwon Blake first slipped to his knees trying to change direction and when Nelson went down it looked like he slipped on the turf also. But replays showed that Nelson jumped high, landed on his left foot and then collapsed as he tried to turn and run in one motion.
It was obvious right away that he had suffered an injury. He hobbled off to the far sideline and then was examined by team physician Patrick McKenzie.
The medical staff can perform a stability test on Nelson’s knee to judge how serious the injury might be. If the knee can be manipulated in an abnormal way, McKenzie can get a good idea the ACL is torn.
McKenzie could be seen working on Nelson’s left knee on a table behind the Packers’ bench. Even though Nelson walked back to the locker room and seemed to be moving briskly without favoring his leg, it doesn’t mean the injury isn’t significant.
An ACL injury requires surgery and would sideline Nelson 8 to 12 months.
Judging from Rodgers’ unsolicited utterance of disgust for exhibition football after the game, it was obvious he knew the diagnosis wasn’t good. He wouldn’t confirm the ACL tear, but he seemed agitated and was uncharacteristically short with his answers.
“It’s difficult to lose a guy like that in a meaningless game,” Rodgers said, when asked how he was feeling.