Two steps later, Green Bay's Pro Bowl wide receiver was on the turf, his left knee injured and his season very much in doubt. While Nelson was able to gingerly walk to the sideline early in the first quarter of Sunday's 24-19 exhibition loss to Pittsburgh, it might be the last sign of Nelson in his familiar No. 87 jersey this year.
"It's difficult to lose a guy like that in a meaningless game," Rodgers said.
The play that may change the course of Green Bay's season started innocently enough. The Packers were driving crisply down the field on their opening possession when Rodgers hit Nelson on a little hitch route. Nelson leapt to make the catch and planted his left leg while turning to face Pittsburgh cornerback Antwon Blake only to unexpectedly drop to his knees, a potentially devastating blow for the Packers and dynamic playmaker who set career highs in receptions (98) and yards receiving (1,519) in 2014.
"I'm not going to get into the 'What if' game," Rodgers said. "I don't know what his status will be. I'm just hoping for the best."
So are the Steelers after Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey exited in the first quarter with a left ankle injury coach Mike Tomlin said will likely require surgery. Pouncey, who missed all of 2013 after tearing multiple ligaments in his right knee in the opener against Tennessee, is out indefinitely.
*Copyright 2015 by The Associated Press *