Green Bay Packers receiver Jordy Nelson spent Sunday evening in a hospital after receiving a blow to the ribs in Sunday's playoff win over the Giants, an outcome that sends his team to Dallas this Sunday ... but maybe without him.
Meanwhile, amid a great deal of talk about how the Packers are a "different team'' than the one Dallas drubbed in Green Bay back on October 16 by a 30-16 score (review the game here), the Nelson injury might put the brakes on that a bit ... and the availability of Dez Bryant might allow the Cowboys to counter that they too are "different.''
According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Nelson sustained “at least” two fractured ribs. Packers coach Mike McCarthy isn't ruling out Nelson, instead suggesting that the receiver -- this year good for a terrific 97 receptions, 1,257 yards and a league-leading 14 touchdown receptions -- will largely be immobilized for the week.
“Jordy Nelson has a rib injury,” McCarthy said on Monday. “Talking with the medical staff, he’s going to be in the rehab group through Friday. And then Saturday if he can practice, then he may have a chance. But we’re not going to do anything until Saturday. I’ll probably know more about where Jordy stands come Friday.”
McCarthy didn't address whether Nelson sustained any internal injuries as a result of the blow, as has been speculated. Instead, Green Bay prepares for this playoff meeting without Nelson (who missed last season with a torn ACL but who has been pivotal to the Pack turnaround from a 4-6 start as he caught 44 passes for 594 yards and five touchdowns during a six-game win streak.
“It would be a huge loss for us, obviously,” said QB Aaron Rodgers, as much a one-man team as there is in the NFL -- and therefore my pick as the MVP. (Our Matthew Postins talks Rodgers and offers "10 Tips'' here as he scouts the Packers for their trip to Dallas.)
Rodgers mentioned Geronimo Allison and Randall Cobb and Davante Adams as weapons who can make a difference.
Said Cobb: “We hate seeing one of our guys go down, but we’ve got to continue to play, We know our season was on the line.”
So it is with the Cowboys now, as 13-3 is behind them. So is this year's win at Green Bay -- a game in which Dez Bryant attended but did not play in due to injury.
What is Dez' mood on this day? I can almost guarantee you he will publicly deny any desire to avenge the "Dez Caught It'' playoff loss at Green Bay that ended Dallas' 2014 campaign. But from the very first time he and I talked about it ("Dez 1-on-1: Gimme Three Steps'') to now, I know he remains acutely aware of it.
Haunted by it? Nah. Acutely aware of it? Yeah. Not saying he seeks vengeance but retweeting a fan saying it?
As the Packers hope their receiving corps can be "different.'' Dez hopes he can be the same for the Cowboys. "Acutely aware.'' I'll go with that.