By Paul Imig Special to Published Aug 25, 2015 at 3:06 PM

Fears became reality Monday evening for the Green Bay Packers. A further medical examination showed that second-team All-Pro wide receiver Jordy Nelson suffered a significant right knee injury, causing him to miss the entire season. The Vegas odds of the Packers winning the Super Bowl dropped, and Aaron Rodgers lost his top receiver in every key statistical category of the past two years.

There’s no way of denying the impact Nelson’s absence could have on Green Bay’s upcoming season.

Yet, the Packers have created such a believable "next man up" philosophy at various stages throughout Ted Thompson’s tenure that maybe it won’t be too debilitating.

Thompson drafted three wide receivers in 2014 and one more in 2015. Green Bay also aided itself by re-signing Randall Cobb this offseason to a four-year, $40 million contract – which was arguably below market value. Fortunately for the Packers, that means they have options while Nelson spends the season on the sideline in rehab mode. Those options, however, will have to step up, players including: 

Randall Cobb

The pressure will be on Cobb to perform like a No. 1 wide receiver. Having Nelson alongside him has often ensured that defenses can’t pay too much attention to Cobb. That won’t be the case any more.

Cobb is undersized (he’s five inches shorter and 25 pounds lighter than Nelson) and will draw a lot more help from opposing safeties than he ever has before. Cobb will have to display a capability to leave the slot and thrive on the outside.

It’s Cobb’s opportunity to shine and prove whether he’s a true go-to, elite wide receiver.

Davante Adams

Adams had an uneven rookie season. For every monstrous performance of six-plus catches for 100-plus yards, Adams had two forgettable performances of one catch for a few yards.

Now, Adams is the clear-cut second wide receiver. He’s still only 22 years old, but if Adams can’t survive taking the big jump from No. 3 to No. 2 on the depth chart, the Packers offense will suffer.

Jeff Janis

Is it already now-or-never time for Janis? He only played 15 regular-season snaps as a rookie and has yet to show that he’s earned Rodgers’ trust. But few NFL players can keep up with Janis in a foot race. Green Bay will need that to translate to on-field success in 2015.

Ty Montgomery

Montgomery was drafted earlier this year with the idea that his main contribution as a rookie would likely be in the return game, not as a receiver. That now has to change. Montgomery and Janis will compete to be the No. 3 receiver. With the frequency in which the Packers use three-wide receiver sets, the winner of that battle will be on the field a lot.

Richard Rodgers

The Rodgers-to-Rodgers connection will increase in quantity as a result of Nelson’s injury. The second-year tight end has proven to have some of the best hands on the team. However, he’s not yet a down-the-seam threat like Jermichael Finley was. Richard Rodgers needs to especially show his value in the red zone.

Eddie Lacy

Over the first eight games last season, Lacy averaged only 13.125 carries per game. In the final eight games last season (playoffs included), Lacy averaged 19.625 carries per game.

Obviously, Mike McCarthy’s preference is to use Lacy more late in the year. Lacy’s bigger body and aggressive running style could tend to wear him down if overused early on. However, Nelson’s injury may force Green Bay to utilize its running game more, and Lacy has to be physically ready for that challenge.

Paul Imig Special to
Paul Imig spent the past five years working for FOX Sports WI. He began by covering the Milwaukee Bucks and Milwaukee Brewers before taking over the Green Bay Packers beat in 2011. In addition to his writing, Paul also made television appearances nationwide on FOX Sports 1. He can be heard on the radio statewide on The Bill Michaels Show and can be seen on Time Warner Cable's Roundtable show with Dennis Krause. Paul is the 2015 recipient of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's award for Graduate Of the Last Decade (GOLD).