Jordy Nelson’s transition from Packer to Raider wasn’t exactly seamless. After nine excellent seasons in Green Bay, his time in Oakland began with more of a whisper than a roar.
In his Raiders debut in Week 1 of this season, he caught three passes for just 23 yards. Week 2 produced only two catches for 30 yards. Finally, in Week 3, he had a breakout performance with six catches for 173 yards and a touchdown against the Dolphins. Still, a knee injury slowed his progress and he really didn’t become a consistent part of the offense until Week 13. Since that game – a 44-30 loss to the Chiefs – Nelson has caught 29 passes for 308 yards. In the first 12 weeks, Nelson had 25 catches for 353 yards.
Now, as the Raiders head into their season finale in Kansas City Sunday, Nelson is on a roll. He’s healthy, in tune with quarterback Derek Carr and feeling comfortable in the scheme.
“It takes time,” he told reporters this week. “Nothing happens overnight, and you just continue to work at it. Chemistry, confidence, me and (Carr) and him and me, and everything else. It just takes time, but there was nothing I was worried about through the whole process, and you just continue to work at it.”
Nelson, 33, signed a two-year deal with the Raiders this past offseason, and is showing that he’s worth keeping around for the second year of the deal, which isn’t guaranteed. If Oakland and head coach Jon Gruden decide to retain his services, it will be worth $7.2 million to Nelson.
Certainly, Nelson would like to stay, and he’s making a strong case for it.
“I plan to,” he said, when asked if he’d like to play for the Raiders another year. “It’s not always the player’s decision, but that’s the plan. We’ve enjoyed our time out here so far, enjoyed the team and starting the rebuilding process and being a part of that. I believe that’s the plan.”
Nelson believes he can help the team not only as a receiver, but as a mentor to younger players, such as rookie wideout Marcell Ateman. No doubt, too, the Raiders will add more receiving help after this season, either through the draft or free agency, that Nelson can help.
Nelson says he wants to make the most of his opportunities, knowing time is running out on his career.
“I already know I’m towards the end, this is Year 11,” he said. “There’s no denying that. A lot of these guys want to play until they’re 40. Not me.”
But age 34 in 2019? That’s do-able. And Nelson wants to continue to show he can be an NFL playmaker equal to the guy he was in Green Bay, where he had three season of 80 or more catches and four times went over 1,000 yards.
Nelson and the 4-11 Raiders are set for a 10 a.m. kickoff Sunday against the 11-4 Chiefs.