Nelson: Young Packers Receivers Doing An "Incredible Job"

It'll take more than a couple of rookies to dethrone Jordy Nelson, but the Packers' leading receiver sure is impressed by them.

At 32, it's hard to put a timeframe on just when Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson is relinquishing his spot as the team's lead dog at his position. 

If last season was any indication, it won't be anytime soon.

Leading the league with 14 touchdowns in 2016 after coming off of a torn ACL the year prior, Nelson hasn't shown any signs of regression, but rather progression in his quest to return to the deep threat he once was. If Father Time has any say in it, expecting Nelson to go back to the downfield threat that caught 19 touchdowns of 40-or-more yards from 2011 through 2014 is wishful thinking.

Sure, nine of his 14 touchdowns in 2016 were from inside the 10-yard line, however, Nelson still has the ability to work the sideline and know where to sit in zone coverage just as well as some of the league's best. It's why he and his colleague in Aaron Rodgers function at such a high level. It's why Nelson and Rodgers form cohesion to the highest degree, evidenced by their team record 59 touchdowns as a tandem set last December.

While the Packers may have drafted two receivers in April's draft in Malachi Dupre and DeAngelo Yancey—both of which have been impressing in camp thus far—Nelson's future is as secure as they come. Especially if he can continue producing the way he did in 2016 despite the mental hurdles he needed to take post-ACL recovery. 

There is one thing for certain: Nelson's impressed by the young wideouts currently on the team's roster.

"I think first starting off is the way they're grasping the playbook," Nelson said after Tuesday's practice of the young group featuring Dupre and Yancey, as well as undrafted receivers Michael Clark, Montay Crockett, Max McCaffrey and Colby Pearson. "They're doing an incredible job in the classroom and being able to carry it over onto the field. They're making the most out of their opportunities and making plays."

Much like Davon House and the cornerbacks on the defensive side of the ball, Nelson has the opportunity before him to mentor and help young assets mature through the duration of training camp and a season. If fans have come to learn anything about Nelson since he was drafted by Green Bay in the second round in 2008, they'd know Nelson would likely pounce on the opportunity to prove as an advisor.

"What we're going to look for is consistency, which is always a battle, especially being a young guy," Nelson said. "It's a lot on their plate from not only offensively, but special teams-wise. They're continuing to grind and they're learning. They have the willingness to learn, which is great. You can see them growing each day."

Special teams is likely where the Packers are going to pit either Dupre or Yancey where they can develop as potentially the team's next-best gunner in punt coverage. An alternative route with one of the two rookies is as a kick returner, specifically where the Packers had deployed Trevor Davis in his rookie season.

It took a muffed punt against the Titans last season for Davis to lose a majority of his playing time to the point where he was ultimately replaced on the 46-man game day roster by the rising Geronimo Allison. Davis soon became an afterthought, even after flashing as a return man every few chances he earned. 

With his less than ideal rookie year in the rearview mirror and an opportunity for a metaphorical "rebirth," Davis is expecting to reclaim any support that was lost after 2016. It started with receivers coach Luke Getsy a few months ago, who said Davis had made big improvements over the offseason. It starts with Getsy and it culminates with Nelson, the elder statesman of the group, who also notices Davis' improvements.

Davis during Packers OTAs. (Mark Hoffman/USA TODAY Sports)

"He's understanding things a lot better, and I think that's a big thing from year one to year two for a lot of players," Nelson said. "Just having confidence and knowing what to do and how to do it, that'll allow him to play fast which is obviously a huge attribute to what he has."

At arguably one of the strongest positions on the Packers' roster, getting the most out of Davis can help further the versatility the Packers have on offense already. From motioning running back Ty Montgomery out of the backfield and out wide to doing the opposite with receiver Randall Cobb, Davis' speed presents just another problem for opposing defenses to stop. It's a matter of him earning those reps through training camp, which, according to reports, he's doing so rather well.


Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV. He's the voice of The Leap on iTunes and can be heard on The Scoop KLGR 1490 AM every Saturday morning. He's also a contributor on the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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Comments (5)

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

August 01, 2017 at 08:17 pm

I keep seeing McCaffrey's name mentioned positively in the beat writers' tweets. Dupre sometimes as well. Davis seems to have positives but also negative comments. I don't remember hardly any about Yancey either way or any about Janis and Allison.

It is early still. Everyone has time to make a mark still.

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ZacharyJacobson's picture

August 01, 2017 at 08:18 pm

A lot of writers are viewing McCaffrey as a dark horse to make the roster. Coaches really like him and he's really catching some eyes.

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DukeDivine's picture

August 02, 2017 at 05:33 pm

Come on NFL!! Can we expand the damn rosters already!?!?!

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Packmaniac's picture

August 02, 2017 at 11:28 am

Unscientific gut-feeling topped by three no-brainers and a hunch that they'll keep 6 receivers


Janis and Davis cut, Yancey to PS (if he he clears waivers ) Ditto Clark to PS

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realitybytez's picture

August 03, 2017 at 11:19 pm

yancey has not been good. tonight silverstein tweeted that he has dropped too many passes. davis muffed his first return attempt in pads. not a good way to make an impression.

all the beat writers were saying great things about janis in tonight's indoor padded practice. highlight was a one-handed catch at the goal line.

allison has been invisible so far.

can't be sure of this, but i don't think mccaffrey has been practicing against the first team defense. hard to get a realistic read on his performance.

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