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Nelson follows 2012 'struggle' with his best season

Dec. 30, 2013
 
Green Bay Packers receiver Jordy Nelson (87) tries to elude Chicago Bears cornerback Tim Jennings (26) and linebacker James Anderson (50) after making a catch during the first quarter of Sunday's game at Soldier Field in Chicago. Evan Siegle/Press-Gazette Media
Green Bay Packers receiver Jordy Nelson (87) tries to elude Chicago Bears cornerback Tim Jennings (26) and linebacker James Anderson (50) after making a catch during the first quarter of Sunday's game at Soldier Field in Chicago. Evan Siegle/Press-Gazette Media

Jordy Nelson might easily be the best bargain in football at this moment.

With one season left on the three-year, $13.35 million extension he signed in 2011, the Green Bay Packersí sixth-year receiver responded to his most challenging professional season in 2012 with clearly his best.

When injuries downed Aaron Rodgers, Randall Cobb and Jermichael Finley, the Packers needed every ounce of that production.

The 28-year-old started all 16 games for the Packers and set career highs of 86 receptions and 1,314 receiving yards.

In Sundayís 33-28 win over Chicago, Nelson was targeted 16 times and came a yard shy of tying his single-game high of 162 receiving yards.

It was the first time in Nelsonís career he recorded at least 10 catches in a game.

On the heels of a 15-touchdown season in 2011, Nelson came back down to earth in 2012. Hamstring and ankle injuries cost him four games and cut his productivity to 49 catches for 745 yards and seven touchdowns.

ďItís been great just to play every game,Ē Nelson said. ďThe numbers will happen if you get to play 16 of them. Last year was a struggle for multiple reasons, Iíve never experienced that. This year has been great. Iíve been healthy, havenít missed anything and knock on wood hopefully it stays that way. Itís been fun. Itís been up-and-down though, but itís been fun and it makes it that much more enjoyable now that we made the playoffs.Ē

As frustrating as 2012 was, 2013 was much different. Nelson was the only offensive skill position player to start all 16 games for the Packers and led the NFL with 19 catches of 25 or more yards.

Nelson had minor knee surgery during training camp, but otherwise has been difficult to slow down. When Cobb and Finley went down, Nelson began working in the slot and became a go-to target for backup Matt Flynn.

Thereís a stark contrast in Nelsonís production when Rodgers starts (97.4 yards per game) compared to the seven games he was out (62.4 ypg), but heís still been a safety valve for whoever is under center.

Now that both Cobb and Rodgers have returned, it can only help an offense that still ranked third in the NFL in total yards (400.2 ypg) without them for a combined 17 games.

ďIt was big,Ē Nelson said of having Rodgers back. ďObviously, we think heís the best quarterback in the league, and to be gone for that many weeks, and to come back and play the way he didÖit was great to have him back. Itís huge. Him and Randall both, came in, and obviously had a huge part of this game.Ē

whodkiew@pressgazettemedia.com and follow him on Twitter @WesHod.

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