Jordy Nelson: WR's Presence vs. Cardinals Will Be Vital to Packers' Success

Ben ChodosCorrespondent IINovember 4, 2012

October 14, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson (87) reacts after a play during the third quarter against the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-US PRESSWIRE
Troy Taormina-US PRESSWIRE

The Green Bay Packers were without star wide receiver Jordy Nelson last week, and the team suffered because of his absence. Nelson has been struggling with a hamstring injury, and the Packers need him on the field to be impressive offensively against the Arizona Cardinals.

Leading up to Green Bay’s Week 8 matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Nelson’s hamstring gave him problems in practice, as noted by The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Tom Silverstein via Twitter.

WR Jordy Nelson added to injury report after hamstring tightened up in practice.

— tom silverstein (@TomSilverstein) October 24, 2012

The wideout did not play that Sunday, and the Packers offense was not nearly as dynamic as it had been in previous weeks. Aaron Rodgers had thrown for 680 yards and nine touchdowns in the past two games while posting passer ratings above 130 in both contests.

He was still efficient against Jacksonville, but the offense lacked the punching power to knock the Jaguars out of the game. Rodgers finished with just 186 passing yards and two touchdowns, while the Jags were within six points of the Packers until the middle of the fourth quarter.

Both Nelson and Greg Jennings missed the game. Jennings had surgery to repair a torn abdominal muscle and will be out at least a few more weeks, according to Sports Illustrated.

For this week, Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer reports that Nelson has made improvements, but there are still significant questions over his ability to play Sunday against the Cardinals.

RT @nickweidman: @jayglazer How's jordy nelson looking for Sunday?>much better shape than he was in this time last wk but still iffy

— Jay Glazer (@JayGlazer) November 2, 2012

If the Packers struggled without Nelson against Jacksonville’s defense, which ranks 25th in yards allowed per game, it will certainly face problems against Arizona, which places sixth in that category.

Rodgers will likely be able to pull off another performance like last week. He will be efficient and will not make key mistakes, but the reigning MVP will not be able to orchestrate a big play.

The Packers can certainly beat the Cardinals in a defensive battle, as Arizona has massive problems in pass protection, and Clay Matthews has continued to prove his status as one of the NFL’s elite edge rushers.

A low-scoring affair may end up leading to Green Bay’s fourth straight win, but the result will remain in doubt until the final minutes of the contest. With Arizona’s aggressive and opportunistic defense, the Cardinals will be able to steal the game by forcing a well-timed turnover.

But if Nelson is on the field, Green Bay’s offense will be explosive, and Rodgers will be able to make plays down the field. This was the case two weeks ago against the St. Louis Rams, who have also been impressive defensively this year.

With Nelson healthy and available, the Packers will record a comfortable victory. With him on the sidelines, it will be a much more nerve-racking affair for the crowd at Lambeau Field.