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Time To Shine For J.J. Nelson

Posted Dec 15, 2016

Notes: Wideout gets chance to step up; Price makes right choice; Floyd claimed

Cardinals wide receiver J.J. Nelson wants to add consistency to his big-play ability.

The tea leaves long ago suggested the Cardinals’ hyped receiving corps would not live up to its potential in 2016.

An anvil has been dropped on any lingering hope, as the release of Michael Floyd and the continued sickle cell trait complications facing John Brown have left the group a shadow of its former self.

The Cardinals know what they will get from Larry Fitzgerald on Sunday against the Saints, but there’s no one else with that steady presence. As the season winds down, J.J. Nelson hopes to change that.

The skinny speedster has been a big play demon this season, scoring five touchdowns on only 26 offensive touches. He’s seen an uptick in usage in the past seven games after he recovered from a broken thumb in training camp, and will see plenty of playing time down the stretch.

Nelson has the type of elite speed to test defenses over the top, but he’s also looking to become a well-rounded wide receiver.

“That’s my mentality each and every day, coming in and proving that I can be an every-down receiver,” said Nelson, who has 22 catches for 323 yards this season. “At the end of the day, I’ve got to stay consistent and I’ve got to make plays. You can’t have this game (where you) do good, and then this game have two or three drops.”

Nelson said the trick is to keep improving on his intermediate routes. He’s proven time and again his penchant for hauling in deep balls, and added another wrinkle with a 56-yard touchdown on an end-around last week in Miami.

“He’s coming,” offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin said. “When you start making plays, the more confidence you get. He’s made some plays. That reverse was awesome. I’m sure you could all tell he’s pretty fast, so when he turned that corner it was lights out. I’m excited for him, because he’s got a lot of talent, he works hard and he wants to be good. The sky’s the limit for that guy, and hopefully he can continue to rise.”

PRICE IS RIGHT ON CHOICE TO PLAY OFFENSE

Givens Price took a shot in the dark as a senior at Nebraska last year, switching from offensive line to defensive tackle after getting mired in depth chart purgatory. The experiment failed, as he barely played and registered just a half-tackle, but Price never gave up his NFL dream.

With his eligibility exhausted, Price had to choose a side of the ball during workouts as he tried to catch the eye of NFL scouts.

“I talked to some of my closest friends, people who I had confided in, and they told me I had a better chance at the NFL playing the offensive line,” Price said. “I didn’t have any experience (on defense) to back it up, but I did on the offensive line, as far as on the field game film, so I went back and trained for offensive line.”

The Cardinals signed him as an undrafted rookie free agent, and Price played well enough in training camp to make the practice squad. With so many injuries at the position, he was elevated to the active roster this week. Price isn’t expected to start but could be active on game day for the first time.

“I’m definitely excited,” Price said. “Grateful as well.”

HUMPHRIES SITS AGAIN

Left tackle D.J. Humphries (concussion) didn’t practice for the second straight day, as it seems increasingly likely the Cardinals could start their fourth- and fifth-string tackles against the Saints.

Cornerback Patrick Peterson was limited in practice Thursday with an illness, as were Brown (sickle cell), cornerback Marcus Cooper (back), linebacker Markus Golden (hamstring/biceps), safety Tyrann Mathieu (shoulder) and Nelson (knee).

For the Saints, cornerback Delvin Breaux (shoulder) and linebacker Stephone Anthony (knee) missed practice, while those limited were running back Mark Ingram (toe/knee), running back Daniel Lasco (hamstring/knee), safety Shiloh Keo (hamstring), fullback John Kuhn (groin), linebacker Craig Robertson (shoulder), wideout Michael Thomas (foot) and center Max Unger (foot).

FLOYD CLAIMED BY PATRIOTS

Floyd, who was released Wednesday, was claimed by the Patriots on Thursday.

New England will pay the balance of his contract, which was $7.3 million for the whole season. Floyd will be an unrestricted free agent after the season.

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