Nelson has combined for two catches (on three targets) for 10 yards through two preseason games.
The coaching staff under Steve Wilks doesn't appear to hold Nelson in high regard if his exhibition workload is any indication. So far, all of Nelson's looks have come from rookie signal-caller Josh Rosen rather than expected Week 1 starter Sam Bradford. Moreover, Nelson has accumulated just a trio of targets on 34 offensive snaps. When roster cuts are due Sept. 1, he may be saved by the fact he has one year remaining on his rookie deal, but Larry Fitzgerald, Christian Kirk and Chad Williams appear locked into the top three spots on the wide receiver depth chart.
Aside from Fitzgerald and 2017 third-round pick Chad Williams, Nelson is the sole holdover from last year's corps, which lost John and Jaron Brown to free agency. Nelson is thus the top non-Fitz incumbent, but the Cardinals replaced the Browns with Christian Kirk, a second-rounder in April, and free agents Brice Butler and Greg Little. Primarily seen as a deep threat in his three pro seasons, Nelson has improved his route tree, as intimated by wide receivers coach Kevin Garver, who said Nelson "runs really good routes." Nelson added that he's "all over the place" in new coordinator Mike McCoy's offense. If Nelson bumps up his career-best 48 percent share of the offensive snaps from a season ago, the opportunity afforded him could result in a true breakout campaign.
Nelson reeled in 29 of 61 passes for 508 yards and two touchdowns in 16 games during the 2017 season.
Nelson upheld his stature as a hit-or-miss option, with far more of the latter than former in his third NFL campaign. As of Week 5, he had two touchdowns and two games with at least 80 yards receiving. Over the final 11 contests, though, he didn't reach the end zone once, had no more than two catches in a given game, and was held below 46 yards in every outing. No matter, his ability to rip off yards in big chunks helped Nelson reach 500 yards through the air for a second consecutive year. Nelson is one of three Cardinals wide receivers under contract next season -- also, Larry Fitzgerald and Chad Williams -- meaning the pecking order at the position will be in flux until the offseason program begins in earnest in April and May.
Nelson snagged one of three targets for a 46-yard gain and added a seven-yard run during Sunday's 20-15 loss to Washington.
The game snapped an eight-game streak during which Nelson failed to total 50 yards in a game. He opened the season with two such performances in his first five contests, but he's struggled with the quarterback carousel and scope of his own role this season. Don't expect the return of Drew Stanton to make things any better. In Stanton's two starts earlier this season, Nelson combined for two catches and 32 yards off six targets.
Nelson gathered in two of three passes for 26 yards during Sunday's 12-7 win versus the Titans.
After Larry Fitzgerald's five catches for 44 yards on 62 (of 65) offensive snaps, Nelson was second among Cardinals wideouts in receiving yards, despite Jaron Brown (15 yards) out-snapping him, 55-40. Nelson has actually earned three of his five greatest workloads of the season the past trio of games, but it hasn't translated to the game log, which displays five receptions (on 15 targets) for 82 yards. His explosiveness also hasn't shown through, as evidenced by one reception of 20-plus yards during that stretch. Due to the lack of production, he defines what it means to be hit or miss, with more of the latter than the former at this point in his career.
|5||10/7/18||@ SF||4:25 pm|
|6||10/14/18||@ MIN||1:00 pm|
|Bye: Week 9|
|10||11/11/18||@ KC||1:00 pm|
|12||11/25/18||@ LAC||4:05 pm|
|13||12/2/18||@ GB||1:00 pm|
|15||12/16/18||@ ATL||1:00 pm|
|17||12/30/18||@ SEA||4:25 pm|
|Year||Team||G||Fum||Lost||Fum Forced||Own Rec||Opp Rec||Yds||Tot Rec||TD|