PITTSBURGH – None of the Green Bay Packers were coming out and saying it, but the looks on their faces and the words coming out of their mouths seemed to confirm the suspicion.
Wide receiver Jordy Nelson is out for the season.
NFL Network reported that Green Bay's medical staff thinks Nelson tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee after landing awkwardly during the first quarter of the Packers' 24-19 exhibition loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday afternoon.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy would not reveal what preliminary tests revealed and said he would wait until a magnetic resonance imaging exam is performed Monday before commenting. But he answered a question about the seriousness of Nelson's injury by talking about how much he thinks of his veteran both as a receiver and a person.
"I'm just in a position of listening to all the information," McCarthy said of reports from the doctors. "Until we get back to Green Bay and do scans and things like that.
"I mean, Jordy Nelson is a key member of our football program, both on the field and off the field, probably more so off the field. … We're looking for good news tomorrow. That's my mind-set."
Nelson wasn't the only one injured. Starting right guard T.J. Lang and backup quarterback Scott Tolzien both suffered concussions. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers had to ice down his wrist after getting sacked for a safety.
"This is a sport we're all going to be injured at some point," Rodgers said. "It's a 100 percent injury rate for every player. You're going to deal with it. You just hate to see it in the preseason because it doesn't count for anything."
Nelson caught a quick hitch to the right side on second-and-5 at the Pittsburgh 25 on the game's opening possession. Cornerback Antwon Blake first slipped to his knees trying to change direction and when Nelson went down it looked as if he slipped on the turf also. But replays showed Nelson jumped high, landed on his left foot and then collapsed as he tried to turn and run in one motion.
It was obvious right away he had suffered an injury. He hobbled off to the far sideline and then was examined by team physician Patrick McKenzie.
McKenzie could be seen working on Nelson's left knee behind the Packers bench. Even though Nelson walked back to the locker room and seemed to be moving briskly without favoring his leg, it doesn't mean the injury isn't significant.
An ACL injury requires surgery and would sideline Nelson eight to 12 months.
Judging from Rodgers' unsolicited utterance of disgust for exhibition football after the game, it was obvious he knew the diagnosis wasn't good.
"It's difficult to lose a guy like that in a meaningless game," Rodgers said.
The quarterback's distaste for what occurred led him to take shots at the NFL's four games that don't count. He said he could go the entire exhibition season without playing and be ready for the regular season. He said he isn't alone among his brethren in favoring a reduction in exhibition games.
"I think a lot of players around the league probably do, at least cut it down a couple," Rodgers said.