Packers WR Jordy Nelson ahead of schedule in injury recovery
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) When the Green Bay Packers went back to work Monday for the official start of the team's offseason workout program, they saw more of wide receiver Jordy Nelson and less of running back Eddie Lacy.
Nelson is on the comeback trail following last year's season-ending right knee injury and Lacy looks slimmer after being called out by coach Mike McCarthy for being overweight last year.
''It's early. It's the spring right now,'' quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. ''So we're going to see how the team comes together; we're not going to make any wild predictions.''
With the Sept. 11 regular-season opener at Jacksonville still five months away, the Packers have to be excited about the prospect of having a healthy Nelson, who went down with a torn ACL in an Aug. 23 preseason game at Pittsburgh, and a leaner Lacy, who was not among the players who spoke with reporters on Monday.
''Eddie looks good, man,'' Packers defensive lineman Mike Daniels said. ''We'll see when the pads come on and everything, but I do think he's a guy who rises to the occasion. He came under a lot of fire (after McCarthy's comments), so I think he's a guy that he got put on the spot and he responded.''
Despite his playing time fluctuating because of a missed curfew and conditioning concerns, Lacy still rushed for 758 yards last season and averaged 4.1 yards per carry. But after back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons to start his career, Lacy now must rebound in the final year of his rookie contract if he hopes to keep his starting job and land another lucrative deal.
''Sometimes guys have great year, great year, great year and then one `down' year, and that's just what happens to everybody,'' Daniels said. ''Unfortunately he wasn't his best (last season), but he's a guy that has pride. He's got pride, and I think hearing all the negativity might have sparked him up a little bit.''
Nelson is well ahead of schedule following his knee injury and said the strength and conditioning coaches gave him the same offseason workouts that his teammates were given. He's already started running routes and hinted that he would like to take part in the organized team activity practices that begin next month.
''I've attacked the rehab the way I wanted to; it's progressed the way I wanted to. I continue to work out the way the coaches and trainers want me to,'' Nelson said. ''We'll do everything we can to make sure I'm ready to go.''
Nelson, who caught 98 passes for a team-record 1,519 yards while earning his first Pro Bowl berth in 2014, also said that he doesn't have ''a mental block with anything'' he's done physically during his comeback.
Rodgers appeared rested and trim despite a busy offseason that included attending the Academy Awards with actress girlfriend Olivia Munn and golfing with President Barack Obama. Although he is coming off a season in which he had the lowest passer rating of his career as a starter (92.7), Rodgers again emphasized that it's too early for bold predictions.
''It's April,'' Rodgers said. ''We have goals that we'll put in place, and you want to finish on top every year, and only one team does. So every other team, if you're not the Super Bowl champ, you're falling short.''
Notes: The Packers have re-signed offensive lineman Don Barclay and signed linebacker Lerentee McCray. Barclay played in all 18 games last season. McCray, a fourth-year player out of Florida, has spent his career with Denver and played in 24 regular-season games over the past two years, recording 19 tackles, 1.5 sacks, a forced fumble and four special teams tackles.
AP NFL site: http://pro32.ap.org/