Nelson makes his move

Rookie shows promise on kickoff returns and is growing as a receiver

Jordy Nelson laughed at the notion he's a natural kickoff returner.

But how else to explain his 56- and 58-yard returns on Saturday at San Francisco?

Nelson said he never returned kickoffs in college, though two of his five punt returns as a senior at Kansas State went for touchdowns.

"I think a lot of it has to do with the people up front doing the right thing and doing their job," the modest Nelson said after Tuesday's practice. "You just got to be able to see the hole and hit it when it's open."

While he's not exactly fast — he ran a 4.51-second 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine — he's quick enough to exploit his blocking. Plus, his sturdy 217-pound build helps him get through traffic, as he showed when he spun out of a tackle on his first return.

Asked to compare punt returns to kickoff returns, Nelson said: "Kickoff, you get a little more of a head start but you've got to find a smaller seam. On punt return, you might have to make someone miss right away and just hit the wall. For the most part, though, they're similar. You've just got to see the hole and get going."

Will Blackmon and Tramon Williams remained the No. 1 return tandem on Tuesday, with Nelson and Patrick Lee — who also had a good return Saturday — the No. 2 pair. Brandon Jackson paired with Nelson at San Francisco.

Meanwhile, Nelson has four catches for 45 yards in two preseason games and has consistently displayed good hands and a knack for getting open at practice. He caught a school-record 122 passes as a senior, and is quickly picking up the NFL game. He credits that to his veteran teammates.

"The guys have been extremely helpful in OTAs and minicamps and now training camp," said Nelson, who found a soft patch between four defenders to catch a perfect pass from Aaron Rodgers on Tuesday. "Hopefully, I can continue to learn from them and get better."

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