GREEN BAY – Jordy Nelson believes his strong 2010 postseason – including his nine-catch, 140-yard, one-touchdown performance in Super Bowl XLV – set the stage for his breakout 2011 because it accelerated the development of his relationship with quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
So imagine what’s in store for the Green Bay Packers wide receiver in 2012.
“A lot of it was just the chemistry and confidence that Aaron had in me going into the year, knowing I was able to make plays for this team and then having a solid training camp and coming out early against New Orleans and making a few plays,” Nelson explained of his performance last season, when he led the Packers in receptions (68), receiving yards (1,263) and touchdown receptions (15), all career bests for the 2008 second-round pick.
“A lot of playing receiver (is), you obviously rely on your quarterback. You have to be on the same page as him and he has to have confidence in you. I think that really built through the postseason and then carried over into last season.”
If Nelson can carry over last year’s success like he carried over 2010’s late-season push, he could force his way into the discussion of the best receivers in the league, along with fellow starter Greg Jennings. Of course, that also means seeing enough passes to put up even bigger numbers than last year. Given the depth of the Packers’ receiving corps – with Jennings, Nelson, James Jones, Randall Cobb and Donald Driver as the incumbents and former practice-squadders Tori Gurley and Diondre Borel banging on the 53-man roster door – that won’t be easy.
“I throw it to the open guy. If there’s any issues, they know where my locker is at,” Rodgers said during the June mandatory minicamp when asked how he can keep so many receivers happy. “I think we do a good job of keeping things in-house for the most part and not worrying about the ‘I’ as much as the ‘we’ and hopefully that continues.”
Nelson epitomizes that approach. He was deferential to Driver last season, when it became crystal clear that he was much more deserving of playing time than the popular but aging Driver, and he has built a terrific rapport with Rodgers, both on the field (where they have an uncanny ability to connect on the difficult back-shoulder throw) and off the field (where they’ve become friends).
“There’s just a lot of comfort and confidence when I’m throwing him the football,” Rodgers explained. “I really feel like Jordy sees the game like a quarterback does, which is directly related to the number of conversations we have had in meetings or after meetings. I enjoy the way that he asks questions, and I think there is a lot to say about the way that you ask questions – what types of questions you are asking, the whys, the fine details – because that goes a long way.
“Especially in crunch time, if we’ve talked about something, the ability to recall that conversation and immediately make the correct reaction really goes a long way to me having confidence in him and ultimately me getting him the football. He does a great job adjusting to me and my movements outside the pocket to finding those open zones.”
Now, he just has to figure out what to do for an encore.
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