The Packers let Jordy Nelson go because they believed he’d lost a step. It’s clear Derek Carr disagrees with the Green Bay front office.
Jordy Nelson used to be one of Aaron Rodgers’ favorite receivers. The Raiders are hoping he can develop the same sort of chemistry with Derek Carr. Early indications are the Oakland signal caller is very optimistic about the wide receiver’s chances to have a bounce-back season.
Carr insists that Nelson is still “one of the fastest skill guys” on the team. That says a lot since the Raiders also have Amari Cooper and Martavis Bryant as key parts of their receiving corps. Simply put, the Raiders quarterback thinks Green Bay made a big mistake in letting Nelson leave. That’s a sentiment that’s shared by man Packers fans.
The real test, of course, will happen when Nelson lines up against an opponent in a regular season game. Looking fluid while running routes in training camp are one thing. Making tough catches down the field when it really counts is an entirely different manner.
Fortunately, Nelson isn’t going to be cast as the Raiders’ only deep threat. Cooper and Bryant both have the ability to stretch defenses vertically with their top end speed. That should allow Nelson significant room to work underneath.
Expect the former Packers wideout to show off whatever speed he has left horizontally as well as vertically. Nelson’s ability to burn linebackers and safeties on crossing routes should be his biggest boost to Carr and the team’s passing attack.
New coach Jon Gruden already seems to understand that. He has confidence in Nelson to run “any route” in the playbook. That description sounds a lot like a player who’s going to operate out of the slot than someone who will regularly line up out wide.
A veteran head coach like Gruden should have the experience to get the most out of a fellow veteran like Nelson.
Time will tell whether the Packers made a mistake by letting Nelson go, but the Raiders clearly believe Green Bay’s loss is their gain. If he can enjoy a bounce-back season in 2018 it could help Oakland’s offense take a serious step forward.