By Ashley Scoby
@AshleyScoby

With Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson going down this weekend with what is reportedly a torn ACL, the NFC North is at least a little more open than it would have been with him in uniform.

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Green Bay is projected to win the division behind Aaron Rodgers’ arm and the rest of their high-scoring offense. But Nelson’s absence changes things for a system that utilizes its receivers better than most teams.

A little further east, the Lions are trying not to think about who may or may not be suiting up within their division. Head coach Jim Caldwell preaches a “focus on what you can control” mindset, and this situation is no different.

“It hasn’t started yet,” he said of the division race. “You haven’t played a game yet. … There’s always been the next man to step up in that place and get a job done. So anybody that’s got on a uniform in the National Football League can play. So I would anticipate they’ll have guys in place to step up and make a significant contribution.”

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Glover Quin, who led the league in interceptions last year, may not have to cover Nelson if the receiver is out for the season, as is being reported. But that doesn’t mean stopping Green Bay’s offense is going to get much easier.

“The best guy on the team is Aaron Rodgers and he’s still playing, so call me when Aaron Rodgers goes down,” Quin said. “We can’t breathe easier, like ‘all right, well, we’re going to automatically win this one because Jordy’s hurt.’”

Quin also mentioned Randall Cobb and the Packers’ third-round draft pick, receiver Ty Montgomery, as players who could keep making Green Bay tick in Nelson’s absence.

With three weeks until the NFL season officially kicks off, the Packers will have at least some time to plan for life without Nelson. How well they do that could have a big impact on the Lions’ divisional title hopes.

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“Now they’ve got three weeks to make adjustments and prepare before opening day, as opposed to it happening opening day and now you’re in the season and now Jordy gets hurt,” Quin said. “It happening in the preseason, you hate that it happened, but that gives them time to make adjustments and try to find something.”