Nelson, Cobb are quite the catches for Packers
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) Humble and hard-working. Unassuming and respected. Raised on a farm in Kansas, Jordy Nelson has a down-to-earth personality that fits perfectly in blue-collar Green Bay.
Here’s the thing: He’s a record-setting receiver, too.
An 86-yard output on six receptions in last week’s win against Detroit allowed Nelson to set the Packers’ single-season mark with 1,519 yards receiving.
”All of this is mind-boggling to be honest with you – winning the Super Bowl, being part of this organization,” Nelson said after the 30-20 victory over the Lions. ”It’s fun. You don’t take it for granted because one of these days, it’s going to be over.”
But retirement is a long way off. For now, he’s half of one of the most productive receiving duos in the league, joining Randall Cobb as quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ two top targets.
There is much work to be done to get ready for the Packers’ playoff game on Jan. 11 at Lambeau Field. And if there is anyone on the team who embraces the work and preparation needed to become one of the top players in the league, it’s Nelson.
”As a coach, it’s what you’re looking for. He’s the example. He’s what a Green Bay Packer (is), what you want every young guy to come in and take a look at,” coach Mike McCarthy said. ”Just the way he goes about his business, the way he approaches work every single day. He’s the same person every day.”
For Nelson, training camp began with the signing of a four-year contract extension. He entered the season as Green Bay’s clear No. 1 option at receiver, following the departures in recent years of veterans Greg Jennings, Donald Driver and James Jones, along with Jermichael Finley at tight end.
By all accounts, his workmanlike persona hasn’t changed in seven years in the league. Not that Nelson is one to draw attention to himself, but the receiver’s production can sometimes get lost in the attention paid to Rodgers’ stellar play.
After years of working together – perfecting timing, routes and other nuances of the game – Rodgers-to-Nelson has turned into a lethal combination for opposing defenses. Plays can be tweaked on the fly just by simple glances or gestures.
”I wouldn’t trade him for anybody in the league,” Rodgers said. High praise from someone known as a stickler for preparation.
This season, Cobb has been as nearly as indispensable as Nelson.
According to the Packers, Nelson and Cobb became the first duo in NFL history with 90 catches, 1,200 yards and 12 or more touchdowns in the same season. They are the third set of teammates in the same season with at least 1,200 yards and 10 touchdowns. The other pairs are Minnesota’s Cris Carter and Randy Moss in 1999, and Denver’s Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker in 2013.
Nelson is more of the deep threat, while Cobb is the elusive and shifty target who can keep drives going on third downs and in the red zone.
Cobb, whose contract is up after this season, appears poised to join Nelson for a big deal – presumably with the Packers. Safety Morgan Burnett, drafted a year ahead of Cobb in 2010, said the receiver seemed ready for the NFL from his first day at Lambeau.
”Randall’s the type of guy, ever since he came in as a rookie, it seemed like there was never was a stage too big for him. When he came in, you thought he was a five-year vet,” Burnett said. ”Same as Jordy, he carries himself like a pro, studies the game.”
Nelson and Cobb have maintained consistent production through the season in spite of the attention paid by secondaries to Rodgers’ overwhelmingly top options. Rodgers has said the Packers have adjusted in part by lining up the receivers in different spots.
For instance, Cobb lately has seen more snaps lining up near Rodgers, taking handoffs and also running routes out of the backfield. Nelson can do damage in the slot or on the outside.
It was ”fun to get Jordy the record. Randall made some great plays for us,” Rodgers said after the Lions game, ”and we finished that thing off the right way.”
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