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Packers’ receiving corps gets healthy at right time
GREEN BAY, Wis. — Aaron Rodgers is putting up MVP-worthy numbers again, throwing for more touchdowns than anyone in the NFL and ranking near the top in completions and yards passing.
Imagine if he’d had all of his favorite toys for the whole year.
With Randall Cobb back from a sprained ankle and Jordy Nelson planning to play in Saturday night’s NFC wild-card game against Minnesota, the Green Bay Packers finally will have all four top receivers for the first time in, essentially, three months.
“It makes us very dangerous,” Greg Jennings said Thursday. “It’s pretty obvious when we have all four guys healthy, the amount of big plays that we can accumulate goes up. Aaron has a lot more options.”
There’s no question Rodgers is a special quarterback, one of the league’s finest, and he’d put up impressive numbers if he had only one or two guys to throw to. But he has four — count ‘em, four — receivers who could be No. 1s on many other teams.
Jennings had 1,000-yard seasons from 2008-10, and came up just short (949) last year despite missing three games. Nelson has a career average of 15.1 yards per catch, and joined Jennings in the 1,000-yard club last year. James Jones led the NFL with 14 TD catches this year, and matched a Packers record with two scores in three straight games. Cobb is the newest of the bunch, and all the second-year receiver has done is lead the team in catches (80) and yards receiving (954).
Add in big tight end Jermichael Finley and you can see why defensive coordinators have nightmares about facing the Packers.
“You can go to any one of them and get a big play, so it makes it more difficult for defenses to defend,” Green Bay offensive coordinator Tom Clements said. “If [opponents] only have one guy or two guys that they have to defend against, they can structure their defenses and set it up in certain ways to take those guys away. But if you have four out there, and sometimes even five, it makes it more difficult.
“So if it’s more difficult for them, it’s advantageous for us.”
But injuries have kept the Packers (11-5) from making full use of that advantage. The Big Four have played less than three full games together this year.
By Andrew P. Napolitano
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