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Nelson Possibly Fumbles Away Job As Kick Returner

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Nelson Possibly Fumbles Away Job As Kick Returner

Wide receiver Jordy Nelson appeared to be having a tough time enjoying the 28-26 Packers victory following the Sunday's game against the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field.

Nelson fumbled twice on kick returns, which both times put the Packers in a position to possibly lose to the now 0-4 Lions. The third-year pro was at a loss for words to describe what happened.

"They got them out," said Nelson. "We'll look at it on film, I don't know, we'll see. They hit the ball. It's hard to say. It's not like I'm out there dropping it, but they got it out. I've got to do a better job holding onto the ball. It's not acceptable, and I'll get plenty of work on it this week."

The first fumble occurred at the end of the first half immediately following a touchdown pass from Lions quarterback Shaun Hill to wide receiver Calvin Johnson to pull within 7 points of the Packers, down 21-14.

Nelson lost the ensuing kickoff setting up a Jason Hanson 55-yard field goal attempt with 2 seconds remaining. Hanson came up short on a kick that Jarrett Bush may have gotten a slight deflection off his hand driving off the edge.

Seeing as the Packers won by two points in the final score, the three potential points in the missed field goal ended up proving critical to the outcome of the game.

The second fumble by Nelson occurred in the fourth quarter following a Hanson 49-yard field goal to pull within 5 point of the Packers, 23-28, and within a touchdown of taking the lead.

Receiving the subsequent kickoff at the 5-yard line, Nelson made it out to the 22 before coughing up the ball. The Lions' Stefan Logan picked the ball up at the 22 and got as far as the 18 before being tackled by Dimitri Nance.

Thankfully for Nelson, the Packers defense was able to limit the damage to one final Hanson field goal, the final scoring of the game, to make it 28-26.

"It's extremely frustrating, not only that you fumbled but that you put your team in that situation," said Nelson. "I put our team in a situation to lose this game, and that's not anything you want to do."

Including Sunday's performance, Nelson now has 6 fumbles on special teams (losing 3) in the past two seasons including playoffs.

Among Nelson's highest profile fumbles was one in the playoff game against at Arizona last season. The last fumble he lost prior to Sunday was also against the Detroit Lions last year in the Thanksgiving Day game. He had two more fumbles on punt returns in 2009.

That makes for 6 fumbles in 71 combined career kick and punt returns by Nelson, which amounts to nearly one in every 12 returns.

For the team as a whole, what it amounts to is another poor special teams performance for the Packers, one that piggybacks on top of another poor showing last week against the Chicago Bears.

"Didn’t like the two turnovers, I can tell you that," said McCarthy of the overall special teams effort following yesterday's game. "I thought the coverage units were OK. The four turnovers are inexcusable. Two on offense, two on special teams. It’s something we take a lot of pride in, something we spend a lot of time on, and I thought that was a big negative in our performance today."

McCarthy and special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum stuck with Nelson on kick returns even following his two fumbles, but it remains to be seen whether they can afford to trot Nelson out on the field in coming weeks.

The fumble problems against the Lions come as a disappointment considering Nelson's strong start to the season, ranking eighth in the NFL coming into Week 4 with a 26.2-yard average on kick returns.

The Packers' other options aren't very appealing. They could turn to Brandon Jackson, who couldn't win the return job during training camp, and is now the team's starting running back following the season-ending injury to Ryan Grant. They also could consider punt returner Tramon Williams, but likely don't want to expose him to injury more than they already are considering Williams' strong play as a starting cornerback, at least while Al Harris remains out.

Former return specialist Will Blackmon is eligible to be re-signed by the Packers after being waived following being placed on injured reserve. However, Blackmon can't sign until after Week 6, the same point that the three players on the Packers' Physically Unable to Perform list are also eligible to return to action.

The Packers would have to clear room on their 53-man roster for any and all of them, should they choose to active them.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (15) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Bogmon's picture

That last one was just sad. He was completely squared up with the guy and the ball just oozed right out of his hands.

I don't know who I like better, but Jordy definitely gets a vote of no confidence.

fish's picture

I understand Nelson is on punt returns for a lack of better options, but always wondered why McCarthy never uses his full potential. At 6'3 - 220lbs with great hands he's the closest person to another Finley we have. Plus look up some old K-State videos when he played with Josh Freemen, He is also a great wild Cat Passer.

fish's picture

Inside K-State Sports - Jordy Nelson Highlight Video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W6B_VmbiR7o

Brian Carriveau's picture

McCarthy has been asked about the Wildcat. He doesn't think there are any players that can run it. At least on last year's team.

packeraaron's picture

"McCarthy has been asked about the Wildcat."

By me! :)

briank029's picture

i agree. jordy is a pretty decent wide out. they used to use him a lot a couple years back and he was pretty sure handed. i dont know about the wild cat though. when you have aaron rodgers you don't need to be running that formation.

fhornplayer83's picture

I think what we're starting to see is what happens to the Packers when they are on the other side of the turnover differential.

I know McCarthy and his team are big on ball security, so hopefully they will "clean it up" soon.

nc packer backer's picture

GB's special teams are special alright. From no return man on Detroit's 55yd kick, the punters 21yd boot and Nelson's 2 fumbles what do you say. Coaching has to play apart in all of this. Heads are going to have to roll. Players and coaches must be held to some standard. Week 4 and it just keeps getting worse.

zub_a_dub's picture

I would rather see Nelson used as a reciever, I think he can be as good as any playing that position we have on the team, special teams is holdinghim back.

Who else can return kicks??

Sean's picture

James Jones

Ruppert's picture

We do not have a better option, unfortunately. Maybe Starks when he comes back? IDK.

Idiot Fan's picture

How about Shields? Sure, he can't catch, but on kickoffs, unlike punts, you have time to pick up the ball after you flub the catch. Eh? Who's with me?

briank029's picture

i'm totally with you. remember the miami, wisconsin game? I mean at least give the guy a shot. You can't get worse than jordy

fish's picture

Sounds like Nance may get some RB and Return time next game.

PennPackerFan's picture

"The four turnovers are inexcusable. Two on offense, two on special teams. It’s something we take a lot of pride in, something we spend a lot of time on, and I thought that was a big negative in our performance today."... MM ALWAYS SAYS that WE (the Packers) take alot of pride in this and that.... I'm getting REALLY tired of hearing him talk about his special pride and then doing nothing about it....

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