Pittsburgh – — Jordy Nelson caught the ball, spun and prepared to dart downfield.
Two steps later, Nelson, Green Bay’s Pro Bowl wide receiver, was on the turf, his left knee injured and his season very much in doubt. While Nelson was able to gingerly walk to the sideline early in the first quarter of Sunday’s 24-19 exhibition loss to Pittsburgh, it might be the last sign of Nelson in his familiar No. 87 jersey this year.
While Packers coach Mike McCarthy stressed the defending NFC North champions “will look for good news” when Nelson is re-evaluated in Green Bay today, the NFL Network reported Nelson sustained a torn ACL in his left knee.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers expressed equal parts frustration and mystification.
“It’s difficult to lose a guy like that in a meaningless game,” Rodgers said.
So are the Steelers after Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey exited in the first quarter because of a left ankle injury coach Mike Tomlin said will likely require surgery. Pouncey, who missed all of 2013 after tearing multiple ligaments in his right knee in the opener against Tennessee, is out indefinitely.
“He got rolled up on but he walked it off,” Steelers right tackler Marcus Gilbert said. “I was hoping that it wasn’t nothing too bad. Once he got carted off, it struck me.”
(At) Tennessee 27, St. Louis 14: Marcus Mariota turned in a clean performance in his home debut, Tennessee cornerback Perrish Cox returned an interception 24 yards for a touchdown and the Titans spoiled Rams coach Jeff Fisher’s return to town. A week after Mariota was sacked, threw an interception and lost a fumble that was returned for a touchdown, the No. 2 pick overall out of Oregon was 5 of 8 for 58 yards with no turnovers.
Titans teammate Dexter McCluster dropped Mariota’s pass in the end zone, while Rams safety Mark Barron couldn’t hold a would-be interception off the rookie.
Tennessee’s defense looked much improved against an offense that ranked 28th in the NFL last year. With Cox’s interception, the Titans (1-1) finally stopped an opponent on the opening drive for the first time in six preseason games.
Nick Foles had a rough outing in three series for the Rams (0-2).
(At) San Francisco 23, Dallas 6: Long black hair swinging from his helmet, 303-pound defensive lineman Mike Purcell intercepted Dustin Vaughan’s pass and returned it 37 yards for a touchdown. Purcell, a practice-squad player in 2013 and for all but the final two games last season, provided the highlight again after his six-tackle day in an Aug. 15 preseason opener loss at Houston.
Dallas quarterback Tony Romo’s day was done after one three-and-out series then the Cowboys turned to Brandon Weeden, who left with a possible head injury.
The Cowboys were expected to be cautious with Romo and Co. at Levi’s Stadium, where the troublesome grass held up after causing concern for coach Jason Garrett and owner Jerry Jones.
Craig Dahl also added an interception for San Francisco against third-stringer Vaughan. Quinton Patton blocked a fourth-quarter punt by Tom Hornsey and scooped it up in the end zone for a 49ers touchdown.
Dallas avoided a shutout when fourth-string QB Jameill Showers threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Nick Harwell in the waning moments.
Robert Griffin III returned to practice, three days after the Washington quarterback left Thursday’s exhibition game against Detroit because of a concussion.
... Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel cut his practice short after experiencing soreness in his right elbow and could be out for a few days.
... Jaguars rookie running back T.J. Yeldon will make his exhibition debut Friday against the Lions.
Receiver Arrelious Benn, who broke his collarbone Saturday night against the Giants, will have surgery Tuesday.
... Falcons receiver Roddy White will undergo a minor surgical procedure on his right elbow, though the team expects him to be ready for the Sept. 14 season opener against the Eagles.
... Giants starting safety Bennett Jackson suffered a major knee injury against the Jaguars and will be lost for the season. Free-agent safety Justin Currie broke his right ankle earlier Saturday night covering a kickoff.