2010 NFL Playoff X-Factors: Green Bay's Jordy Nelson

Kevin RobertsSenior Writer IJanuary 12, 2011

Nelson could be needed again this week.
Nelson could be needed again this week.Win McNamee/Getty Images

The Green Bay Packers got out of the first round of the NFL Playoffs last week, but it had very little to do with their explosive passing game, and almost nothing to do with star receiver Greg Jennings.

With Jennings locked down and held to just one catch on five targets, the Packers were forced to move the chains with their ground game and short, precise passes. That seemed to be no problem for Aaron Rodgers and company, but with Jennings facing another tough matchup against Atlanta Falcons' star corner Dunta Robinson this week, it begs fans to ask what Green Bay's offensive strategy will be this week.

With Jennings locked up by Robinson and James Jones less than 100 percent with an apparent thumb injury, the answer could be sparingly used fourth receiver, Jordy Nelson.

Nelson has been solid during his brief three-year career, but he has never been able to take the next step to the next level, as veteran Donald Driver and Jones have always stood in his way. However, with Driver also likely getting attention from the defense, there's a chance Nelson could be a factor in the divisional round of the playoffs.

In fact, Nelson was a big part of the game the last time the Packers battled the Falcons, as he grabbed five receptions for 61 yards and a game-tying touchdown that locked the game at 17 before Green Bay eventually fell, 20-17.

While Nelson wasn't used at all (zero receptions) against the Eagles in the first round, his past success against the Falcons and the expected necessity could make him into a surprise X-factor in the biggest game the Packers have played since the 2007 NFC Championship game.

With good hands and solid route-running ability, Nelson has continued to work hard to prepare for an extended opportunity, and even put his underrated speed on display with an impressive 80-yard touchdown catch against the New York Giants in a must-win battle in Week 16.

There's no doubt that Nelson isn't the first guy Green Bay draws up plays for, but if you watch the Packers closely, you know that there's no doubt that they're aware that they have a gem.

Look for Nelson to be much more involved than he was in the first round, with a chance at once again playing a big role in a matchup with the Atlanta Falcons.

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