The Packers did just fine without Jordy Nelson on Sunday, but facing the Cowboys will be a different story.
Nelson was injured as he went up for a catch near the sideline. He bobbled the ball and as he stretched for it, Leon Hall, who led with his helmet, hit him hard in the left side. Nelson remained down for a few minutes and had to be carted to the locker room. He was quickly ruled out for the remainder of the game.
The Packers were slow to release details of the tests Nelson underwent, but we did learn that he remained in the hospital overnight. When a player takes a hit like this the biggest concern is organ damage (spleen, lungs, etc.). The second concern and more common diagnosis are rib fractures.
The team has now reported that Nelson is dealing with multiple rib fractures. While this is an injury he can play through if they are non-displaced fractures, it is very painful and risky. If Nelson were dealing with any internal damage, the team would have already ruled him out. So it is a good sign that there is a slight glimmer of hope that he will be active. Nelson has no chance of practicing before Saturday, and the team has announced that he won’t be active against the Cowboys.
Any rib cage injury to a wide receiver is problematic for two main reasons. First, a receiver’s’ core is exposed each time they go up to make a catch. It can affect them both mentally (thinking about taking a hard hit) and physically (actually taking the hit). Second, every movement, whether it be cutting, sprinting, stopping, etc., is affected by the core. Rib fractures make it very painful to do all of these things, so Nelson’s performance won’t be what we have come to expect from him.
The Inside Injuries algorithm has Nelson in the high-risk category because any hit he takes puts him at risk of a much more serious injury. When a player has multiple rib fractures, there is an increased risk of organ damage if he takes another big hit to the rib cage area.
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