Friday, September 20, 2013
A cure for a case of the drops
By Rob Demovsky
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Receivers often get edgy when the subject of dropped passes comes up.
So when presented with the fact that Green Bay Packers wideouts have not dropped a pass yet this season, according to ESPN Stats & Information, Jordy Nelson's response was predictable.
“There you go,” said the sixth-year receiver, indicating it was not his favorite subject.
And then someone standing nearby knocked on Nelson’s wooden locker.
After dropping 21 passes as a group last season, the Packers' receivers have yet to let one drop in 2013.
“Thank you,” Nelson said. “You just can’t let good things ride.”
Packers receivers have a combined 37 catches this season without a drop. Last season, their group dropped 21 passes, fourth most in the NFL, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
Their sure-handedness is part of the reason Nelson, Randall Cobb and James Jones have combined to lead the NFL in yards by a receiving group through the first two weeks. The trio has combined for 610 yards receiving, and all three are on pace for 1,000-yard seasons.
Yet ask Nelson, and he’ll tell you the Packers’ receivers -- himself included -- have not been perfect. In fact, he gave himself a drop on the first play of Sunday’s game against Washington. Nelson ran a 15-yard stop route, and the ball was thrown slightly to the inside. Nelson had to leave his feet and couldn’t come up with the ball.
“You’ve got to make that play,” said Nelson, who dropped six passes last season, according to ESPN Stats & Information. (Cobb dropped seven and Jones three.)
“There’s been multiple times in the first two weeks where they’ve made some exceptional catches,” Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. “I hope we don’t get so used to those that we don’t recognize them all the time. James Jones had some incredible ones last year. Jordy makes ’em look easy at times. Randall, as well, picked a couple of balls off the shoelaces. Those are impressive plays that not every guy at their position can make, so I’m ecstatic. It makes me look good.”
The Packers’ only dropped pass this season was a ball that deflected off the hands of tight end Jermichael Finley in Week 1, and 49ers safety Eric Reid intercepted it.
Catching the ball cleanly has always been an emphasis in the Packers’ receivers room, where position coach Edgar Bennett is a stickler for details, and that hasn’t lessened just because drops haven’t been an issue. Just last week, Bennett showed Nelson a still shot of one of his catches against the 49ers.
“He paused it right when I caught it, and I’m looking straight at the safety,” Nelson said.
That time, Nelson caught the ball cleanly, but he knows that’s not the technique Bennett wants.
“It’s always about what you emphasize, and that’s looking the ball in so we don’t have that occasional, take your eye off the ball worrying about where you’re going to advance the ball to,” Bennett said. “I think it’s just more about focus and being fundamentally sound as far as looking the ball in.”