If Green Bay Packers fans had any concern about wide receiver Jordy Nelson's return from a torn ACL being delayed or him suffering any setbacks in rehab, those concerns should have been thoroughly put to rest on Thursday. At the Scouting Combine, both head coach Mike McCarthy and general manager Ted Thompson were asked about Nelson and his recovery, and both sounded excited and optimistic about Nelson's return to the offense.
(Or in Ted's case, as excited as he can be in a press conference, given his typical stoic, dry demeanor.)
After suffering his torn ACL in the Packers' second preseason game of 2015, Nelson has been diligently rehabilitating throughout the season and into the offseason as well. Thompson noted that Nelson is "around the building all the time...literally, all the time." The process has certainly been difficult for Nelson, however. Thompson said that sitting out for the entire season was "a hard thing for him to do," but that he has been "a workout (and) rehab freak" throughout his recovery.
That work appears to be paying off. McCarthy said that Nelson's recovery is "way ahead of schedule," and that the receiver "looks great," and that the coach believes that he will show no lasting effects from the injury. "I think where he is in his career, i'm not worried about him getting 'back' as far as where he was," McCarthy said, and noted that Nelson should be able to participate in some of the teams OTA and minicamp activities. Once training camp begins, however, McCarthy said he expects Nelson to be able to practice without any limitations.
Once Nelson does return to the field, what should Packers fans expect from him?
One thing that Nelson provides is the ability to attack the deep middle of the field, an area that the Packers struggled to exploit without him. While discussing the tight end position, McCarthy brought up Nelson, saying that he "became a totally different player" in 2013 when the Packers started to line him up in the slot with Randall Cobb out.
What sets Nelson apart from other receivers, however, is his attention to detail. McCarthy addressed that particular quality at length:
Jordy Nelson's a great route-runner. He understands not only the time clock but weight distribution, the timing of flipping the DB's hips, and so forth. And he can run. He's got more speed than people think. Jordy, he's very patient, he's very detailed, he's an excellent pro as far as the film study and really being in tune with who he's playing against each and every week.
All told, when Nelson does return to the field his organization expects him to be every bit the deep threat and the dynamic playmaker that he was before he tore his ACL last August. Packers fans - and Aaron Rodgers - all hope that he will be.