The NFL preseason war of attrition continues, as the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers suffered devastating injuries in a 24-19 exhibition at Heinz Field on Sunday. The Packers lost Jordy Nelson, their top wide receiver, to a torn ACL, while the Steelers lost Pouncey, their top offensive lineman, to a broken ankle.
Both players will likely miss the entire season – a devastating blow to teams with Super Bowl aspirations.
“Yeah, it is,” NFL on CBS insider Jason La Canfora said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “On paper, at the start of the preseason, if you were to ask me who were the two most dynamic, most prolific, most scary offenses in the NFL, these would have been 1 and 2. And obviously these are horrific injuries and they’re going to be hard to account for, but the games go on unfortunately and preseason football rolls on for two more weeks unfortunately. This is what it is.”
Nelson led the Packers with 98 receptions, 1,519 yards and 13 touchdowns last season. Green Bay’s other top returners include Randall Cobb, who had 91 catches for 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns, and Davante Adams, who had 38 catches for 446 yards and three touchdowns.
“I will say from the Packers’ standpoint, if there’s anybody on the planet whose program can be able to develop a receiver basically on the fly – to create a receiver out of thin air, out of the ether, and make him be a factor – I would say it’s Aaron Rodgers,” La Canfora said. “Adams will be good and Randall Cobb already is very good and they’ll find a third receiver somewhere and I think they’ll live to fight another day.”
The Steelers, meanwhile, don’t have the depth at offensive line that the Packers have at receiver.
“The Steelers, unfortunately for them, they’ve been down this road with Pouncey before,” La Canfora said. “He’s missed extended periods of time before. I’m not sure that they have the next man up on their roster right now to be able to truly fill that role, but they’ve gone out in free agency in years past and found guys who looked like they were makeshift who turned out to be okay.”
While neither injury is ideal, La Canfora believes that the Packers and Steelers, who both won their respective divisions last season, will be two of the top offenses in the league. As for their defenses, well, that remains a mystery.
“Both these teams are going to score a lot of points either way,” La Canfora said. “I think the issue with both these ultimately over time will be can they stop people from scoring enough on them to offset how much they can score?”