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Jordy Nelson: “You have to make the most of your opportunities”

Posted by Ricky Zeller on January 26, 2012 – 12:58 pm

After a breakout season where he set career highs in every statistical category (68 catches, 1,263 yards, 15 TDs), WR Jordy Nelson sat down for a Q&A session that was printed in the Gameday program for the NFC Divisional playoff. What follows are a few excerpts from the conversation:

Your family has a farm that you worked on as a kid. What was your typical day like?

We got up early, but not as early as people think…7 a.m., 8 a.m., depending on what was going on. We would go out and make sure all the water tanks were full in the morning. We would feed some calves if need be, then do whatever was on the list for the day – working the grounds, working the cattle, fix some things. It varied for the day. At night, we would fill the tanks back up to make sure the cows had water and we were done. We had Angus Beef cattle. We only had about 150 or 200 at any one time.

You grew up in Leonardville, Kan., (population: 495) and set a slew of records in high school, but ended up walking on at Kansas State. Did you have any scholarship offers?

I had offers from Division II schools. We only had 67 kids in my graduating class. That was part of it. I just got overlooked. They probably didn’t think I was playing against the talent other kids were.

In high school you played quarterback, but when you got to Kansas State they put you at safety.

Quarterback was out of the question when I went to college. If I wanted to have a future at the next level, meaning the NFL, I knew it wasn’t at quarterback. I knew it was either at safety or wide receiver. I walked on as a safety, didn’t see any playing time my first two years – the year I redshirted or my freshman year. Then they swapped me and another guy. He went to safety and I went to wide receiver.

What did the coaches say when they switched you to wide receiver?

There was some discussion my first year about which position I should play. When they called me in a couple of years later, it was really nerve-wracking, because you never want to be called into your coach’s office. They told me they were going to make the switch, and asked me what I thought of it. When you are a sophomore in college, you never say, ‘I think I should stay on defense.’ I liked offense better than defense, anyway. So I went after it, and it was a long offseason trying to learn the playbook, and it was a lot more running than I’d ever experienced before during practice being a wide receiver.

Moving forward, after you were drafted by the Packers, were you hoping for more opportunities or did you feel like it was part of the process?

My rookie year I was developing, we just had a bunch of receivers. I was still in the process of learning the position because I had only played wide receiver for three years prior to getting here. My second year I had a little drop off. I missed three games with injuries. I was still learning, still getting some chemistry with Aaron (Rodgers). The number of opportunities was down with everyone else in the rotation.

When a player talks about getting opportunities, does that mean playing time, or getting the same amount of plays and doing more when you are on the field?

I’d say it’s getting more plays, but also the type of plays. On a pass play, maybe you are the key read. A lot of it has to do with just making plays. Aaron is going to look your way the more plays you make. The coaches are going to put you in more situations the more plays you make. It’s something that grows.

Does it also take being lucky, where you could run the same great route as the week before and not be thrown the ball and then someone else is up in the rotation?

Yes, it happens to every wide receiver. Aaron could have looked the other way. It’s part of the position. Sometimes he looks at you and you don’t run as good of a route. You have to be on top of it every time.

Do you still feel the urgency you used to, that you must make a play or you’ll end up on the sidelines?

You still have to make the most of your opportunities because there is still the rotation. I don’t have the same fear of getting pulled if I do something wrong.

After how you finished last season and your performance in the Super Bowl (nine catches, 140 yards, TD), did you come into 2011 feeling more established?

I did. Going into training camp, there was a lot less on my mind, a lot less thinking on the field. I knew the playbook in and out. I was able to think about how I was going to run a route and reading the coverage, how I was going to try to beat the guy in front of me. I could spend time thinking about that instead of concentrating on the route.

Individually, did this season exceeded any expectations or goals you may have had?

I don’t think I ever would have thought I’d score 15 touchdowns, especially with the group of guys we have and the amount of time we share on the field. I’ve been fortunate, and I’ve been able to make a lot of big plays based on the coverage I’ve seen. Like I said earlier, the more big plays you make, the more opportunities you get, because you get the trust of the coaches and you get the trust of Aaron.

You are a quiet guy, but wide receivers and defensive backs are known for taunting each other on the field. Do you get involved with that?

(Laughing) They don’t get any joy out of talking trash to me. There are less than a handful of guys that have tried to talk to me in college and in the NFL because I really don’t have anything to say. It’s kind of like talking to yourself.

DRAFT: Jordy Nelson example of BAP targeting: http://pckrs.com/2c9j

VIDEO: Nelson explaining what the battles are like with cornerbacks during each play: http://pckrs.com/bx3b


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