Sunday’s pre-season game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers dealt both teams devastating injuries.
The Packers lost superstar receiver Jordy Nelson, whilst the Steelers lost the anchor of their offensive line, Maurkice Pouncey.
Jordy Nelson tore his ACL after hauling in a pass from Aaron Rodgers in the first quarter of the game. At first glance the injury didn’t look that bad, Nelson was not tackled and just seemed to fall to the ground after catching the ball, he then stood up and hobbled off the field.
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Usually, a torn ACL requires a player to be carted off the field, so let’s just credit Nelson’s toughness right there. Sadly for the Packers, Nelson will miss the entire 2015 season, meaning that Aaron Rodgers and the Packers’ offence will have to play without their superstar receiver.
Centre Maurkice Pouncey broke his ankle during a run play in which his foot got rolled up on by Packers’ defenders and Le’Veon Bell. The injury looked more gruesome than Nelson’s but, thankfully, wasn’t as serious.
Not to understate the significance of the injury by any account, as Pouncey will require surgery and will most likely be out for up to 10 weeks. This is a major blow for the Steelers’ offensive line, a unit that transformed into a consistent, solid unit last year.
The discussion of which injury will have the biggest impact on their respective teams will most likely sway in Nelson’s favour. A superstar receiver who can take the top of the defence is seen as a much more vital role than a center in today’s NFL.
Steelers Worse Off
I believe that Pouncey’s injury will have a bigger impact on the Steelers than Nelson’s will on the Packers, and here is why:
Aaron Rodgers is an elite quarterback, and elite quarterbacks can work with any and all receivers. I would bet you any amount of money that Aaron Rodgers could have a receiving core comprised of children and still put up 4000-yards passing.
Let’s also not forget that they resigned Randall Cobb, who is certainly capable of stepping up to the number one role. They have a talented tight end in Andrew Quarless, Eddie Lacy is a great option out of the backfield for screens, and a great bunch of young receivers who will have their chance to step up and catch passes from the great one, Aaron Rodgers.
Pouncey rejoined the Steelers’ offensive line back in 2014 after missing 15 games in the 2013 season with a torn ACL and MCL. What did that line accomplish with him back playing? Oh yes, they protected Ben Roethlisberger so well he was sacked the least amount of times in his career, which ultimately helped Ben put together the greatest season he has ever had.
I wholeheartedly believe that without Pouncey in the lineup the Steelers offensive line goes from being good, to average. Sadly, average offensive line play is not going to help make the Steelers offence the best in the league, something they are striving for this year.
Now, by no stretch of the imagination am I understating Jordy Nelson’s injury, and in no way am I brushing it off as something the Packers can get over easily. They will very much miss his awesome playmaking abilities, but I think the Packers can adapt to Nelson’s absence easier than the Steelers can without Pouncey.