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Next Man Up: Playoff Victory Comes at a cost, but Packers have seen this Story Before

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Next Man Up: Playoff Victory Comes at a cost, but Packers have seen this Story Before

When Jordy Nelson went down in August of 2015, the Packers hobbled their way through what was widely considered a subpar passing game that season. They had no true No. 1 wide receiver, and as a result, a pure slot receiver in Randall Cobb was exposed by opposing schemes. The youthful second-year Davante Adams battled through an ankle injury for a majority of the season. There was no Ty Montgomery. There was no 6'5" vertical threat at tight end that could vertically stretch the field and provide as a third-down security blanket for Rodgers.

A year removed from the culmination of that dreadful campaign, the Packers may once again find themselves having to soldier on without league's receiving touchdown leader.

Nelson took an illegal helmet shot to the ribcage from Giants' safety Leon Hall when going up for a pass in the second quarter. After remaining hunched over on the sideline for several moments, he was soon helped up and carted into the locker room. Eventually, he was ruled out for the game and his status for next week's playoff game in Dallas was officially put in jeopardy.

Head coach Mike McCarthy hadn't spoken to any of the trainers after the game, so he was just as concerned as the rest of those wondering during his postgame presser.

The Packers aren't reverting back to the mess that epitomized them in 2015, though.

Not now.

Cobb has all of the momenta in the world after his three touchdown performance against the Giants. Adams is smarter, quicker, stronger, healthier. Montgomery is more explosive than ever and dodged a bullet on Sunday with a brief stinger to his surgically-repaired left ankle. Cook is 6'5" and the exact kind of aforementioned vertical threat that Rodgers can utilize, including in third-down situations where that duo has shined this season.

On top of that, the offensive line is protecting the cornerstone of the franchise like their lives depend on it — like their season has been on the line every single week.

If anything is for certain, Adams has shown he has the talent to be seen as a No. 1 receiver in any passing offense. The only true test that remains is whether or not that notion can be confirmed without Nelson on the field. This Sunday at AT&T Stadium against the first-seeded Cowboys should do the trick.

Even without Nelson on Sunday, Cobb and Adams combined for 241 receiving yards, the most by any two Packers' receivers in team playoff history. Coincidentally, they were both owners of the previous record of 233 combined receiving yards set against the Cowboys in the 2014 NFC Divisional round. If there was any better time for that duo to shoulder the load as Rodgers' top-tier targets while the Packers aim for an extended playoff run, doing so here in the heat of January would simply be the protocol for those two.

Cobb put together one of his less productive seasons, averaging a career-low 10.2 yards per reception and tied his lowest touchdown total since his injury-plagued 2013 where he only caught four — two of them coming in week 17. He also missed the final two games of the season before being declared active for the Wild Card round. However, as the recipient of 14.04 percent of targets this season — third-most on the team, the confidence in Cobb has yet to waver.

His three touchdowns on Sunday marked the tying of an NFL postseason record of which Cobb had no idea he left his mark on. For someone who spent his last playoff game watching his team from a hospital bed while they cycled through Jared Abbrederis and Jeff Janis as their leading receivers, the script couldn't have been better-written for Cobb.

Unwavering confidence, and trusting the process, even sans Nelson.

"I think everybody just stuck to our job," Cobb said after his career day. "Put ourselves in a position to make plays when they were there, whenever we had those opportunities. We hate seeing one of our guys going down, but we have to continue to play. We knew our season was on the line."

On the other side, Adams was tied for second in the league for most receiving touchdowns this season behind only his fellow locker mate. His presence has been highly regarded as "game-changing" for the Packers' offense and has supplied Rodgers with more stability at the position in the case of emergency events like Nelson going down.

"Once we had that spark, it kind of got us going," Adams said outside his locker after the game. "We all kind of had to look at one another, look at ourselves; it's playoff time and we weren't even playing like it was a playoff game. We weren't playing like it meant anything to us."

This was only the second full season that Adams was able to play alongside Nelson, and there's the likelihood that Nelson's nine years of formulating chemistry with Rodgers was rubbed off on the Fresno State alumni.

"It'll take a blow by him (Nelson) coming out of this game," Adams said of the leader to his position group. "Not sure exactly what's going on with him, but, I'll talk to him later and hopefully everything's okay. We had to pick up the slack."

"That was a huge piece of our offense we had to play without from early in the game."

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (21) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Razer's picture

Great win and great team effort. The surprise of the day was our defense holding them to 6 until our offense got going. I am looking for a couple of things in Dallas.

1. D-line needs to be stout against the run. We need to force Dak to beat us in the air.

2. Offense starts fast and forces Dallas to press for points.

3. Our run game needs to show up. We know that Rodgers can sling it - but - if our O-line can open some lanes and McCarthy dials up some plays for Montgomery and Michael this will be a game for the ages.

chugwater's picture

I see this as a repeat of the Dallas-Pittsburgh game from earlier this year. Came down to who had the ball last.

I'll admit, Dallas had me worried when we played them earlier this year (with good reason obviously). I'm still concerned, but think we're in a much better place going into next Sunday. 50-50.

Houndog's picture

I live in CA and news is slow to arrive, any news on Jordy?

7th Rounder's picture

There is an unconfirmed report that he has 3 broken ribs. Source was Nelson's cousin on twitter...let's hope that turns out to be false.

croatpackfan's picture

It might not be broken, just half cracked, because Mike McCarthy said that if Jordy will be able to practice on Saturday, he will play against Dallas. If ribs are really broken, there will be at least 2 weeks before Jordy will be able to play. And that is shortest possible recovery time. If they are just partially broken, healing process is much faster. Anyhow, sorenes of the ipmpact area may also prevent Jordy of playing. Pain caused by bumped ribs are intense, so you can imagine how intense is when ribs are broken...

chugwater's picture

I am hoping against hope that it's just a rib bruise and that he'll be ready to go on Sunday. You'd think if the rib were broken they would have announced it.

Tundraboy's picture

Good point. Lets hope thats the case. No break.

chugwater's picture

I'm starting to think it is a broken rib. It's just that MM is keeping it a secret until the last minute.

DrealynWilliams's picture

I just read 2 fractures

Ibleedgreenmore's picture

I read an ESPN story it was at least 2 ribs but Mike said he could play if he practices this week but will be a game day decision.

Lphill's picture

As far as the Cowboys go if you stop the run you win. Keep Burnett or Brice in the box and hope for the best.

Razer's picture

I agree with stopping the run as our priority. I would like to see more 3 down lineman fronts and a little less Matthews/Peppers split wide.

JacFrost's picture

I agree that if you can contain the run, and no one really has this year, we have a shot. I noticed they have a lot of speed to the outside and its scary.
I think you got to go in there with a chip on your shoulder and take them on head on.

What is really scary is Jerry has three very good d players not playing right now due to suspension and injury. If Jerry trades Romo for a top pick this team is going to be tough to deal with next year for anyone, best to beat them now.
I think Atlanta is very doable for the pack if they get by Dallas. Best of luck guys

chugwater's picture

Richard Gregory is suspended for all of 2017 too. Hard to know if Jaylon Smith will be the same player given his injury.

RCPackerFan's picture

per McCarthy.

Nelson spent the night in the hospital. Won't say whether Nelson suffered any internal injuries. He will be in the rehab group thru Friday. If he practices on Saturday he has a chance to play on Sunday. If he doesn't practice Saturday, he won't play Sunday.

Lphill's picture

Jordy has rib injury if he can practice Saturday he plays Sunday, Pennel released due to Suspensions , Abbey signed to Lions .

Johnnyt6752's picture

This article is quite similar to Pete Dougherty's ???

BradHTX's picture

Not generally a big fan of this author's writing, but plagiarism is a serious issue. I went and looked at the Dougherty article on packernews.com, and there's nothing that's been lifted. The author here has a totally different lead, and while there's a lot of repeated information and the general point is the same, that's to be expected. There's only so much that you can say that's original on a subject as basic as "Jordy's out, the others will have to step up." Nothing to see here.

Duke Divine's picture

They'll step up. Last game vs Dallas was an aberration as the Pack had 4 turnovers. That won't happen this time around.

LAS VEGAS-TOM's picture

The word on Jordy out here in Vegas is, He has 2 Cracked Ribs. Has there been any word out of GB?
Whatever, it doesn't look very good.
LVT

sheppercheeser's picture

I feel that when a player knocks a player out of a game due to an illegal hit, the offending player must also sit out until the injured player returns, whether it is one play or three games.

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