As day two of the Raiders training camp kicked off on Saturday, Jordy Nelson found himself under the bright sun in beautiful Napa Valley. Quite the change of scenery from the often frigid conditions of Green Bay, where Nelson spent the first nine seasons of his NFL career. But while plenty has changed in the past few months for the veteran, the 33-year-old’s athleticism has shown no signs of slowing down.
With his release from the Packers and subsequent signing on in Oakland on a two-year, $15 million contract, there were questions as to whether Nelson still had the speed to remain an impact player on offense.
Tell that to cornerback Daryl Worley, who, according to Levi Damien, Nelson burned for a deep touchdown as day two unfolded. Or Karl Joseph who Nelson got past on day one for a long completion.
Despite doubt raised by the media and fans, Raiders coaches and players are convinced that the Pro Bowl wide receiver hasn’t lost his speed.
“I think as we’ve seen the first three days, he’s made some impressive catches and shown exceptional speed after the catch,” said offensive coordinator Greg Olsen after Saturday’s practice.
When Jon Gruden was asked whether he thought Nelson still looks like the playmaker he was all those years with the Packers, the coach responded, “Yeah, he does. He’s wired in.”
“You can see why he was a security blanket for [Packers QB Aaron] Rodgers all those years,” Gruden added. “He can still run. He’s proven to us he can still run.”
Known for his excellent route running and reliable hands, Nelson quickly became one of Rodgers’s favorite targets in Green Bay. He also had sneaky speed that helped him become one of the most dangerous wide receivers in the NFL.
Despite missing the 2015 season with a knee injury, Nelson has recorded 63 receiving touchdowns since 2011, ranking fourth in the league behind Dez Bryant, Rob Gronkowski, and Jimmy Graham.
Since 2016, he leads all players with 16 receiving touchdowns from the red zone. It is no wonder why Aaron Rodgers was shocked the Packers decided not to bring the veteran receiver back, and he isn’t alone. Raiders quarterback Derek Carr expressed a similar sentiment after the first day of Training Camp wrapped up.
“The thing that you hear about that he can’t run anymore, that’s false,” Carr told reporters. “I can tell you, he’s one of the fastest skill guys that we have still. He can run. You see that by his route running. If he can win on underneath routes, that means DB’s are scared about what he can do over the top. He’s still Jordy Nelson, that’s for sure.”
“I can’t believe Green Bay let him go, but I’m glad he’s here.”
When Gruden and the Raiders signed Jordy Nelson to the team, they added more than just a leader in the locker room. The Silver & Black believe they gained the same old-school Jordy Nelson that lit up those frigid Green Bay winters for Packers fans all these years, along with the opposing cornerbacks that had to cover him.