WR Nelson perfecting high-wire act for Packers - NBC Sports

WR Nelson perfecting high-wire act for Packers
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Green Bay Packers' James Jones is congratulated by Jordy Nelson (87) after Jones caught an 83-yard touchdown pass during the second half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
October 10, 2013, 7:51 pm

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) Jordy Nelson is making navigating the sideline for catches look easy for the Packers.

Sometimes the receiver is on his tiptoes. Sometimes he has to twist around like a pretzel with a defensive back draped over him. Either way, he usually comes down with the ball.

Now it's the Ravens' turn to deal with Nelson's tightrope act and the rest of Green Bay's talented receiving group when the Packers visit M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday.

"You've got to admit those aren't made by every receiver across the league," quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. "He's a special receiver. I'm glad he's on our team, and I'm glad he makes me and our team look good all the time."

Well, it's not quite all on Nelson. Someone has to throw, and Rodgers has a knack of getting receivers the ball at the right time.

And there's other concerns for an opposing coach. Randall Cobb made a nice one-handed grab during last week's 22-9 win over the Lions, and also spiced up the offense in the second half with a 67-yard run to set up a Mason Crosby field goal.

James Jones may not have one outstanding characteristic - like Cobb's speed, or Nelson's playmaking ability - but he just seems to do a lot of things well. Like that 83-yard touchdown reception last week that ended with a brief impromptu end zone shuffle.

Then there's Nelson with his high-wire act on the sideline. He's only getting better at it, receivers coach Edgar Bennett said.

It's in part due to certain drills. "But I also think a big part goes toward his athleticism and his ability to make those type plays," Bennett said Thursday. "His focus, his concentration and all of that plays into it when you're talking about a playmaker of his caliber."

Together, Cobb, Nelson and Jones have 67 catches for 1,035 yards and seven touchdowns through four games.

"When you look at Jordy, JJ and Randall, when you put them out there, you get something different from each and every guy," Bennett said.

"From a defensive standpoint, they probably look at it in a similar way, as well as far as strengths and weaknesses and we're certainly always trying to improve."

Throw in tight end Jermichael Finley (17 catches, 153 yards, 2TDs) and the ability he's shown to fight his way for extra yards, and the Packers can give any secondary fits.

Then consider that Green Bay is also developing a running game. Eddie Lacy came a yard short last week of the Packers' having a third straight 100-yard rusher, a feat considering the Packers went nearly three years without one until this season.

And yet, with all those options, the Packers have had trouble of late converting red zone drives into touchdowns. The offense hasn't looked as sharp, at least compared to what Green Bay fans are used to seeing.

Since converting all four attempts in the season opener against the 49ers, the Packers are 5 of 12 in red zone efficiency the past three games. Certainly not ideal, though there doesn't seem to be panic either.

Green Bay is tied for 13th in the NFL in scoring touchdowns from inside the 20, converting at a 56 percent clip.

"We're not going to change our approach, the way we train our red zone," coach Mike McCarthy said this week. "It's been four weeks, it's not quite where we want it to be, but we have confidence it's going to get there."

Having Crosby back on sure footing has helped. He was the NFC special teams player of the week this week after hitting five field goals against Detroit.

Note: Center Garth Gerhart is back on the Packers practice squad after being re-signed Thursday. A first-year player out of Arizona State, Gerhart was with Green Bay until the final cuts of the preseason. The Packers are down a lineman with backup G-C Greg Van Roten out with a foot injury. To make room, the team cut WR Reggie Dunn after a 10-day stay on the Green Bay practice squad. ... Backup LB Andy Mulumba did not practice for a second straight day with an ankle injury. The Packers will already be without starting LBs Clay Matthews (thumb) and Brad Jones (hamstring) for the Ravens game.

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