Jordy Nelson works his way up to No. 2 receiver slot by being himself

Nov. 16, 2011

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Jordy Nelson doesnít model himself after any NFL receivers past or present and doesnít compare his game to anyone.

Maybe thatís because thereís no one else like him.

The Green Bay Packersí receiver has drawn comparisons to guys like Joe Jurevicius and Ed McCaffrey.

ďItís easy for someone to say, ĎOh yeah, heís like one of those other white receivers,íĒ fellow Packers receiver Greg Jennings said. ďHeís not. Iím sorry. Heís not. He knows how I feel about it. Maybe Iím a little biased because he is a teammate, but from watching him day one to right now, totally different player.Ē

Perhaps his production can be partially attributed to the attention that Jennings and tight end Jermichael Finley command or the fact that heís playing with the best quarterback in the NFL today, but Nelson has elevated his game in his fourth pro season. He had his first two-touchdown game on Monday against Minnesota to match Jennings for the team lead with seven. In his first three seasons, Nelson caught a total of six regular-season touchdown passes.

Heading into Sundayís Week 11 game against Tampa Bay, Nelson ranks tied for 14th among NFC receivers with 34 catches and among those in the NFL with 30 or more receptions, Nelson and Carolinaís Steve Smith have the highest average at 18.6 yards per catch.

After splitting the No. 3 receiver duties with James Jones the last three seasons, Nelson has not only surpassed Jones but moved ahead of Donald Driver as the Packersí No. 2. Rodgers has thrown Nelsonís way 46 times this season, nearly matching Finley (48). The two trail only Jennings (71). Heís just 11 catches shy of his career high for a season and with 633 yards, he already has surpassed his previous single-season best of 582 yards in 2010.

In his last 16 games going back to last season and including playoffs, he has 62 catches for 1,098 yards and 10 touchdowns. That 16-game yardage total would have ranked him 11th in the NFL last season.

In the midst of that stretch, which included a 9-catch, 140-yard game in Super Bowl XLV, he signed a three-year, $13.35 million contract extension.

ďI honestly donít believe anything thatís going on right now,Ē Nelson said. ďI donít know, maybe Iím naÔve or whatever, but ever since the playoff run and the situation, itís just been unreal.Ē

Thereís a joke in the receivers meeting room that Nelson benefits by being the only white receiver on the team because perhaps opposing defensive backs donít take him seriously.

ďHonestly, I think it is (a factor),Ē Nelson said. ďAs receivers, weíve talked about. I know (cornerbacks coach) Joe Whitt tells me all the time, when all the rookies come in, he gives them the heads up, ĎDonít let him fool ya.í Thatís fine with me.Ē

Said Jennings: ďHe uses that to his advantage. Donít put this out there because thatís our secret. But no, seriously, he has taken full advantage of every position that heís been in whether it be special teams with the kick return game, now being the No. 2 Ö however you want to put it, heís taken full advantage of it. Itís not because he didnít put the time in. Itís not because heís the white guy. A lot of it has to do with the fact that guys look at him say, ĎOK, yeah, heís the white guy, he canít be that good.í Well, he is that good. Heís proven to be that good, and itís because of the work and the time that heís put on not only on the field but in his preparation off the field.Ē

Nelson came into the NFL as a long-striding speed receiver but has developed into a multi-faceted weapon. He has made his share of big plays with two touchdowns of 84 yards in Week 2 against Carolina and 93 yards in Week 6 against St. Louis, but his two touchdowns against the Vikings were much different. On the first one, he caught a quick hitch, broke a tackle attempt by cornerback Cedric Griffin and powered his way to a 17-yard touchdown. On the second, a 4-yarder, he showed his chemistry with quarterback Aaron Rodgers, reading the scramble and knowing to where to go to help keep alive a busted play. He has only one dropped pass this season after struggling with drops last year.

Not bad for a guy who went to college at Kansas State as a walk-on safety.

ďJordyís just an all-around great player,Ē said Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman, who played with Nelson at Kansas State. ďHeís a humble guy, hard working, and then heís just going to make plays. Thatís all he does. Heís never going to mess up. He takes the approach to the game that he takes it personal. Itís no surprise to me that heís had the success that he has. Iím just really proud of Jordy and really happy that heís having the success that he is.Ē

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If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

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