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Jordy Nelson: Is Packers’ Caution Approaching Paranoia?

I’m not a doctor, but I sometimes play one on Total Packers.

Actually, I’m merely trying to relay the published consensus of the medical establishment concerning recovery periods following anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) surgeries. While sources are quick to say that ACL surgeries are not always alike and that recovery rates will vary from person to person, there is broad agreement that after nine months the only healing left is psychological.

  • Emory Healthcare (Atlanta) lists five phases of ACL recovery. The fifth one is “return to sport, usually at six months.”
  • The University of Pittsburgh’s UPMC Health Beat site says: “From the time you first undergo surgery through full rehabilitation, the process can take up to six months or more.”
  • The folks at emedicinehealth.com say: “Rehabilitation may take six to nine months to return to full activity.”
  • The Sorts Knee Therapy advises: Generally, this ACL surgical recovery timeline will take anywhere from 6-9 months of physical therapy. After nine months, you’re on what could be the most difficult part of your ACL recovery – the psychological aspect.”

Here are some facts to throw into the mix.

  • Nelson is a young man and an extremely healthy physical specimen He has utilized the best medical and rehabilitation specialists that money can buy. His surgery was routine, as ACL surgeries go, with no additional injuries (MCL tears, meniscus damage, etc.) or complications.
  • By all accounts, Nelson’s recovery (to that knee, never mind the “hiccup” to the other knee) has gone without a hitch. In July, Bob McGinn reported that Nelson “appears to be well ahead of the curve in his rehabilitation.” Back in January, Nelson himself even went so far as to say he thought he could have played in the Super Bowl if the Packers had made it that far.
  • ACL injuries are common. Estimates are that from 250,000 to 400,000 Americans suffer ACL injuries annually, so there is a lot of past rehab experience to go by. Additionally, each year advances are made concerning ACL treatments and surgical methods.

We’ve previously cited several ACL recoveries by other NFL players – none of which kept a player off the field longer than Jordy has been sidelined.

Here’s a few more for good measure.

  • Packers’ right tackle Bryan Bulaga tore his ACL on August 4, 2013. He quite routinely returned the following year and put in a full and terrific season.
  • Green Bay receiver Jerad Abbrederis announced his ACL injury on August 3, 2014. He was back for the first training camp session of 2015, then suffered a bad concussion. He was still able to take 62 snaps in the last preseason game that year, which included three punt returns. I don’t recall any concerns raised about Abby being pressed back into service too early.
  • Kelvin Benjamin, a heralded rookie receiver for the Carolina Panthers in 2014, tore his ACL on August 19, 2015, four days before Nelson did the same. By March, Benjamin was running around the field and making cuts, and declaring he would be a “full go into training camp” – and he was, from Day 1. He caught one pass in the Panthers’ first preseason game and caught two more, for 29 yards, in the week 2 preseason game.

Jordy certainly isn’t the one who’s been hesitant to return to action. Nor have I heard that the delay is based on the advice of any doctors. It’s at the behest of the Packers’ super-cautious coaching staff (and perhaps the front office).

This isn’t an unprecedented event. Fox Business News says approximately 70 NFL players are diagnosed each year with a torn ACL. It does seem, however, that the Packers are being cautious to an unprecedented degree regarding the return of arguably the team’s second most valuable player.

This would hardly be the first time that an ultra-conservative philosophy has put the team in jeopardy of losing games. This year, the first two games of the season might be the two toughest of the year. Unless Nelson gets some substantial playing time in the final two preseason games, it’s unrealistic to expect him to be fully up to speed after being absent from game action for 20 months.

If there’s a good reason for the unusual delay in restoring Jordy to action, I’ve yet to hear it.

People are now wondering whether we will even see Jordy play in the final two preseason games.

Rob Born

Smart drafters don’t select the best available players, they fill a team’s positions of greatest need.



  1. Who cares August 23, 2016

    We probably won’t see him in preseason, every year the coaching staff has a knee jerk (no pun intended) reaction in the offseason to something that happened the previous year

  2. Deepsky August 24, 2016

    The Packers are being cautious because they realize that the entire season hinges on him coming back and performing at a high level.

    There is no backup plan. They didn’t acquire a decent receiver in free agency (not sure if one was even available). They didn’t spend a first or second round on a receiver that could at least contribute like rookie Sterling Sharpe or rookie James Lofton or rookie Greg Jennings.

    If Nelson isn’t a 1000+ receiver, which means he’s stretching the field and is playing in a substantial number of games, the Packers are right back where they were at the end of last season with one of the worst passing offenses in the league.

  3. Howard August 24, 2016

    Yes the Packer front office is being conservative. The doctors it should be noted just cleared Jordy to come off the PUP. I know many do not believe the medical staff is competent, however there is nothing the coaches can do with Jordy until he was cleared by medical. If Jordy was cleared in week 1 preseason would you put him out in preseason game 1 to get on the same page with Callahan. Hell no.

    Based on the problems with Levi stadium from last year I do not expect Jordy on that field unless those problems have been corrected. If Rodgers does not play the final game neither will Jordy.

    So I guess if Jordy was playing in the preseason and he had a setback no one would complain about what the Hell they were doing playing Jordy during the preseason. I would be sure there would be no one second guessing that decision?

    1. PF4L August 24, 2016

      You are correct in saying that Jordy can’t do anything until cleared by the medical staff. but don’t believe for a second, that McCarthy doesn’t have any influence on that subject.

  4. PF4L August 24, 2016

    Very good article and excellent research Rob.

    Also, does anyone really believe that Jordy will see pre-season action? I don’t.

    BTW, as i’ve posted in another article. Jordy admitted to a reporter that his other knee “hiccup” was not the reason he was put on the PUP list. Just another case of the Packers lying to their fans and customers.

  5. ay hombre August 24, 2016


    This is all about the leadership at the top.