Rodgers: Nelson's injury limited Packers' playbook

Green Bay's typically explosive offense tumbled to earth last season, a swoon that had plenty to do with the loss of Pro Bowl receiver Jordy Nelson.

With one of his favorite targets lost for the year, quarterback Aaron Rodgers was forced to run an attack that never found a suitable replacement for the subtle gifts Nelson brings to the game.

"No, it didn't surprise me," Rodgers said of Green Bay's inability to fill the void, per ESPN's Jason Wilde. "The thing that he does is, we have specific packages for him that just, we didn't have a guy who could fill those packages. And it was a lot of play-action stuff, where we're taking eight-man protection and taking shots down the field. And we didn't have a guy who could take that spot."

It's a testament to the little things Nelson does so well, a level of refinement that Green Bay couldn't immediately expect from its wave of younger pass-catchers and, last season, a slow-footed James Jones.

"It's an excuse, but it's the truth," Rodgers said. "The truth is we lost a stud receiver who put up incredible, All-Pro numbers one year and he's gone the next year without getting that production back. We knew you can't replace a Jordy Nelson. But we thought that supplementally, we would (compensate)."

Said Rodgers: "I thought that collectively we were going to be able to fill some of that void. But again, the stuff that he does is tough to teach, and that's why he's one of the best in the business. I'm proud of the way that we battled, but we all didn't play as well as we wanted to and we didn't get it done."

With Nelson expected to be fully healthy for Week 1 -- he's currently on the active/physcially unable to perform with knee tendinitis -- Rodgers can look forward to a restocked depth chart that will again feature a true No. 1 receiver ahead of Randall Cobb, Davante Adams and whoever wins the tug-of-war between Jared Abbrederis, Ty Montgomery and the mildly enigmatic Jeff Janis.

Barring disaster, the Packers are a safe bet to return to the points and yardage machine we're used to with Rodgers at the helm.

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