GREEN BAY – After 11 NFL seasons, 613 career receptions, 8,587 yards and 72 touchdowns, Jordy Nelson still didn’t know how he did it.
What made him one of the NFL’s elite receivers? How did he overcome expectations as a second-round pick out of Kansas State? What made Nelson, in the words of Green Bay Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy, “one of the greatest players in our history”?
“I don’t know,” Nelson said. “I honestly don’t. I kept it simple and just did what I was supposed to do, and what I was taught. I’ve had a lot of people ask what the secret is — how do you get faster, how do you, whatever — and it's just work and paying attention and do what you’re asked to do.
“I don’t know. I honestly can’t answer.”
Nelson formally retired as a Packer on Tuesday morning, ending a career that placed him third in receptions (550), fifth in yards (7,848) and second in touchdowns (69) in franchise history.
At age 34, Nelson could have continued his career for a 12th season. Nelson said he had some overtures from teams after the Oakland Raiders released him in the offseason, among them the Seattle Seahawks. Nelson visited Seahawks general manager and former Packers executive John Schneider this spring.
Ultimately, Nelson said, it was time for him to move on.
“What it came down to for us,” Nelson said, nodding to his wife, Emily, in the front row inside Lambeau Field’s media auditorium, “is we didn’t want to move our family around, just kind of being honest with you. My family hadn’t even been in California for a year, and then we’d have to move them to Seattle. I mean, I didn’t know if it was one year, two years, whatever it would’ve been. And at this point in time, I did what I wanted to do. I have the Super Bowl ring, so I didn’t need to go chase one of those. Stuff like that. So it wasn’t us to do that.”
Nelson moved his family back home to Kansas this offseason. He said they’ll build a house this fall, settling down and starting their life after football.
What awaits, Nelson is still unsure.
“I’ve been working a little bit on the farm,” Nelson said. “Getting these kids situated in a school, and kind of get them going. Besides that, I haven’t gotten too far. Definitely going to be in and out of Wisconsin. We have great friendships up here, obviously within the organization but friends outside of it as well.
“Besides that, no big plans, to be honest with you. I think my wife and I talked, the next two years there’s going to be a lot of no’s until we get situated and really find out what we want to do.”
Packers waive injured tackle Spriggs, sign RB
It appears Jason Spriggs’ career in Green Bay has come to an end as the Packers waived/injured the fourth-year tackle Tuesday to claim running back Keith Ford off waivers from Indianapolis.
Spriggs, whom the Packers traded up to select No. 48 overall in the 2016 draft, injured his trapezius muscle July 27.
If no team claims Spriggs, he will revert to the team’s injured reserve list. At that point, the club and Spriggs could elect to part ways with an injury settlement.
The 6-foot-6, 301-pound tackle out of Indiana played in 36 games (nine starts) in three years.
The Packers traded up from the No. 57 spot in 2016 to get Spriggs, sending picks No. 125 and No. 248 to the Colts. Ironically, linebacker Antonio Morrison was picked by the Colts at No. 125 and played for the Packers last season.
Alex Light has been working in as the backup tackle on both sides of the offensive line since Spriggs has been out injured. On Monday, Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst said the tackle picture was still developing.
“I think there’s some guys that are going to get thrown into these games and play a lot of snaps, which will be really telling for us,” Gutekunst said. “It’s a big opportunity for them, not only these next two days, but Thursday night.”
Ford was acquired to bolster a depleted running back room, as Tra Carson missed practice Tuesday with a neck spasm. Ford went undrafted out of Texas A&M last season and appeared in two games with Buffalo. He signed with the Colts on July 29. Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams have been out with hamstring injuries.
Rodgers looking ahead to Ravens, Raiders
Immediately after practice Tuesday, Packers coach Matt LaFleur still wasn’t quite ready to publicly state Aaron Rodgers’ status for Thursday’s preseason opener against the Texans at Lambeau Field, but a short while later the veteran quarterback offered a hint at his upcoming schedule.
"I'm probably gonna play, I would assume, in the second and third games,” Rodgers said.
The Packers travel to Baltimore on Aug. 15 and then to Winnipeg, Manitoba in Canada to play Oakland on Aug. 22.
“Definitely wanna get out there in Winnipeg for our fans out there,” Rodgers said. “That'd be a lot of fun. It's about getting your work done in the training camp practices and trying to stay healthy, have some efficient drives in the preseason.”
Rodgers last played a preseason opener in 2015 at New England, logging 33 snaps and attempting 19 passes. Tom Brady played seven snaps over two series that day as well.
Jake Kumerow connection
It’s no secret Rodgers appreciates what receiver Jake Kumerow brings to the Packers' offense.
Kumerow has been a favorite of Rodgers’ since he arrived last season. On the field, their connection is clear. But Rodgers explained further Tuesday why he trusts the formerly undrafted receiver so much.
“His late hands,” Rodgers said.
For example, Rodgers pointed to Kumerow’s 37-yard reception against cornerback Jaire Alexander during the night practice Friday. Kumerow didn’t have much space against Alexander, the first-round pick last year. If he’d given any indication of where the football was in the air, it might’ve been enough for Alexander to force an incompletion.
But, with his late hands, Kumerow didn’t react to the football until the last moment.
“That’s just something that’s hard to teach,” Rodgers said. “The trust to wait till the last second to put your hands out there against a great defender, who’s basically playing his hands and not seeing the football, you can’t teach that. The best guys we’ve ever had here over the years — from Greg (Jennings) to James (Jones) to Jordy (Nelson) to Randall (Cobb) — all could do that.