Who Needs a Preseason?

While James Jones was held without a catch, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb had big days against the 49ers. It was one of the finest days of Jordy Nelson's career, with Nelson showing great hands and toughness.

You can't stop everyone.

Even without Greg Jennings and Donald Driver, the Green Bay Packers' receiver corps proved that's still true during a productive Sunday against San Francisco's staunch defense.

While the 49ers managed to hold James Jones without a catch, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb turned in dynamic performances. Nelson caught seven passes for 130 yards and a touchdown and Cobb caught seven balls for 108 yards and a score. Other than the Giants' trio of Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Rueben Randle, who all went over 100 yards in their Week 1 loss to Dallas, Green Bay had the only receiver duo with a pair of 100-yard games.

Not bad for a pair of guys who played two snaps apiece in the preseason.

Maybe they'll lobby receivers coach Edgar Bennett to hold them out of future preseasons.

After a hearty laugh at that comment, Bennett said, "I'll say this: It's always about being fundamentally sound and improving each and every day. That's our mind-set: to get better, period, every day, whether it's classroom or out on the practice field, and take it to the game and make the most of every opportunity. So, I don't think they'll be lobbying too much for that because they want to be the best. To be the best, you have to put work in, so when they put the work in, they benefit the way they did on Sunday.

Statistically, Nelson's had better days. He had nine catches for 162 yards and three touchdowns during the wild 2011 finale against Detroit, and he had nine catches for 140 yards and a touchdown in the Super Bowl.

Nonetheless, Sunday's game had to rank among the most impressive for Nelson, who missed most of training camp after knee surgery. He had two impressive runs after catches — 22 yards after being hit by hard-hitting rookie safety Eric Reid and 9 yards after making veteran Nnamdi Asomugha whiff to turn a short pass into a third-and-15 conversion.

"That's one of our goals, continue to improve in the one-on-one battles, make the most of every opportunity," Bennett said. "When you look at yards after the catch, YAC, that's a big part of it. Obviously, catching the ball is primary. You have to do that first. But then what? What are we getting on our own? That's what we're measured by."

On the play after beating Asomugha, he got drilled by Reid but made a juggling 9-yard catch. Then, on the go-ahead drive in the fourth quarter, he made a brilliant toe-tapping catch on the sideline for a gain of 37.

"That's just trusting everything you've done," Nelson said. "That's getting your feet in bounds and trying to extend as much as possible. You can work on it, but when it comes time, you've just got to adjust to the football and try to make a play."


Jones and Nelson celebrate Nelson's TD. Kelley L. Cox/USA Today Sports

Nelson's performance impressed the coach of Sunday's opponent.

"He's some player, to come back from knee surgery and play at that level," Mike Shanahan said during a Wednesday conference calls. "Tells a lot about him as a person. Seems like that's the way Green Bay has been playing for a long time, lot of unselfish people preparing themselves very, very hard."

Speaking of unselfish, Jones, coming off a league-leading 14 touchdown catches last season, was thrown only two passes. That's not what made Sunday a tough day, however. His attitude wasn't surprising to coach Mike McCarthy, who called Jones one of his "emerging leaders" and a "class act."

"I don't go into a game trying to get 160 yards and we come out with a loss," Jones said. "The ultimate goal is to win the game and that's why it's a team game. If I'm not making plays, that's why we've got other receivers and that's why we've got other playmakers. Nothing's wrong with me. I'm just out there trying to help my team win, and we didn't get the win done on Sunday."

Jones wasn't necessarily a target by the 49ers' defense, which spent the afternoon playing "55 coverage" — a two-deep zone with man coverage underneath. He said the times he was open often corresponded to the times quarterback Aaron Rodgers was under pressure.

For years, the hallmark of the Packers' receiving corps is its strength in numbers. Take away one receiver and another will produce.

"That's the plan. That's the plan," Jones said. "That's what we pride ourselves on. If they try to take one of us away, the rest of us are going to kill you. Jordy and Randall had a great day, Jermichael (Finley) had a great day. Hopefully we can keep them rolling and get me involved and make some plays."


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.


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