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Despite his sizable success in pro football, Jordy Nelson has gravitated toward small towns his entire life.

So when he arrives in Sioux Falls as the featured speaker for the Argus Leader Sports Awards on May 16 at the Sanford Pentagon, if anything he’ll be a little overwhelmed by all the bright lights.

A native of Riley, Kan., Nelson grew up on a farm and went to a high school with an enrollment of about 250. As you might guess of a gifted NFL wide receiver, he excelled in just about everything he did as an athlete.

As you might not guess, he also put in a lot of time helping out on the family farm, all while participating in three varsity sports.

Now approaching his 11th season with the Green Bay Packers, the former Kansas State walk-on has built a reputation for being generous with both his spirit and his time in Wisconsin and his native Kansas.where to get cheap football jerseys

Nelson will share some of both on jerseys from china his visit to the Sioux Falls for the third annual Argus Leader Sports Awards, which honors high school athletes, coaches, teams and community members for their achievements. Previous featured speakers were Peyton Manning (2016) and Cal Ripken Jr. (2017).

“I’m looking forward to visiting South Dakota; it’s one of the few states I’ve never been to,” said Nelson in a recent phone interview. “Growing up in rural Kansas, where the nearest towns are somewhere between 500 and 800 people, it’s always interesting to see new places.”

Those planning to attend the awards banquet can expect a compelling message from Nelson. He’ll touch on his own upbringing and how that sustained him in his progress from a small-school high school star to what was initially a long shot situation at Kansas State, and then on to NFL stardom.

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“Because it’s an awards show, I expect there will be a lot of kids there who want to play at the next level, whatever that might be,” he said. “Most of all, you need to continue to have fun. And I expect a lot of the kids up for awards are going to have younger siblings there. It’s the most important thing for them, too. It’s important for all athletes that whatever you’re doing, you enjoy it.”

That goes for NFL players, too. Nelson has learned that lesson while racking up nearly 8,000 career receiving yards and 69 touchdowns for Green Bay, becoming one of the league’s most potent offensive weapons.

“I can’t image how difficult playing at this level would be if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing,” he said. “Even in the NFL, it’s not worth doing if you’re miserable.”

Nelson is not a fan of specialization in youth sports. He was an excellent basketball player in high school and one of Kansas’ top high school track athletes, this while also putting in the hours on the farm.

“It drives me nuts when I see parents trying to get their kids to specialize in a sport when they’re 8 or 10 years old,” said Nelson, who served as a substitute third-grade math teacher at his son’s elementary school while injured in 2015. “Honestly, if that had been how it was for me, I wouldn’t have ended up playing football. I always found basketball more enjoyable. Let kids experience lots of different sports. It prevents getting burned out because there is always something new to focus on.”

The family farm was also a prominent part of Nelson’s youth. His parents were both athletes growing up, so the children got their opportunities to play. The summers were busy, though. Basketball and weightlifting were tucked around time on the tractor, building fences and other chores.

“Working outside is always more fun for me,” said Nelson, who made the Pro Bowl in 2014 after posting a career-high 1,519 receiving yards and 13 TDs. “I always liked the active stuff more than just sitting on your butt in a combine. And building a fence was always more fun than repairing them.

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“You can see your progress as you go along – there’s nothing better than looking at a brand-new fence at the end of the day. When you’re repairing them, though, it looks about the same as it did when you started. And you know you’re going to have to come back and do the same thing next year.”

James Jones knows all about Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb as he was with the Green Bay Packers from 2007-2013, 2015. So when he hears about the possibility of either Nelson or Cobb being cut, the NFL touchdowns leader in 2012 believes he has the answer to the Packers’ interesting problem. Jones spoke to ESPN Wisconsin last week and when it comes to Nelson, he said he would try to get him to restructure his contract.

“If I was the GM, knowing that Jordy probably only wants to play one more year,” Jones said via Jason Wilde of the Wisconsin State Journal. “I sit Jordy down and I say, ‘Look, how can we restructure you? How can we get this done so you can come back? I want you, Davante and Randall on the field so we can make another run at the Super Bowl (now that) we get Aaron back.’ How can we work this out so it’s good for both parties and you can retire as a Green Bay Packer?’”

Jones went on to say that Cobb is too valuable to the Packers offense to be cut before the start of the season.

“As for Randall, I’ve been in that offensive room with Coach Mike and him putting in the game plan,” Jones said. “So I understand how valuable Randall is — to all of the packages. You can put him in the backfield, you can line him up in the slot, you can line him up outside, he can run the ball.

“I think Randall is too young to take a pay cut. Jordy? He’s old. Jordy’s on his way out. So you get one, two more good years out of Jordy, that’s good. … But I would definitely keep both of them.”

Both Nelson and Cobb, who will be free agents after the 2018 season, have cap hits of over $11 million this year. Also, both players are coming off of disappointing seasons as Nelson recorded 53 receptions for 482 yards and six touchdowns while Cobb recorded 66 receptions for 653 yards and four touchdowns. In their defense, Aaron Rodgers missed more than half of the season and when he was healthy, Nelson was leading the NFL in touchdown receptions. So with a healthy Rodgers back in the mix, there’s a good chance Nelson and Cobb will have better production in 2018. However, the 2019 season could be really interesting for the Packers if they don’t make any moves on Nelson and Cobb and let them play out the 2018 season with no restructured deals in place.

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Aaron Rodgers, who was activated off injured reserve Saturday, will go through a “trial practice week” by primarily serving as the scout team quarterback for the Green Bay Packers.

Rodgers broke his right clavicle Oct. 15 and underwent a surgical repair.

“He’s trial return,” coach Mike McCarthy said Monday. “Just like everybody. I go through this every time a player comes off an injury. You either go down and you’re in the rehab group, and then once you get out of the rehab group, you’re trial return, so you’re limited reps in the practice.”

McCarthy stressed that Rodgers has not been medically cleared for a full return and won’t be this week.

“That’s why we call it trial return because he’s not cut loose for a full practice,” McCarthy said. “The medical clearance won’t be [an option] until next week.”

McCarthy said Rodgers is practicing even though he can’t play Sunday against the winless Browns.

“Obviously, scout-team work is something that he will do,” McCarthy said. “Obviously, the drill work. It’s important for him to feel the pass rush and get acclimated. We won’t be in pads on Wednesday, but it will be a padded practice on Thursday, so you have to make sure you identify exactly what you want to get done there.”

The Packers (6-6) are still alive in the NFC playoff picture and play the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, with Brett Hundley making his seventh start since Rodgers was injured in Week 6.

Rodgers is eligible under the league’s designated to return rules for the Packers’ Dec. 17 game against the Panthers. He still would need medical clearance to formally return to play, but his scout team work this week will serve as the next step before a full return to practice next week.

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The Packers’ first practice this week is Wednesday.

The future looked bleak for Green Bay when Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone in Week 6, raising doubts he would play again this season. The team floundered with backup quarterback Brett Hundley under center, starting with a loss to the Minnesota Vikings the day Rodgers was injured and continued to be on the wrong side of the scoreboard in four of the next five games.

Then Green Bay orchestrated a 26-20 overtime victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, and the win could not have come at a better time. Not only did the Packers improve to 6-6, they put themselves in position to become a playoff team just in time for Rodgers’ reported return in Week 15 against the Carolina Panthers. Or so it seemed.

Any and all playoff hopes for Green Bay require winning out the rest of the way and ending the season with a 10-6 record. Since 2002, the year the league expanded to 32 teams, 162 clubs have won 10 or more games; 152 (94 percent) of those made the playoffs. But it won’t be that easy. Yes, the Packers get to play the 0-12 Cleveland Browns on the road in Week 13, but then they have to face, in order: Carolina Panthers on the road, Minnesota Vikings at home and Detroit Lions on the road. Bright side: Those are also three teams that stand in their way of a playoff spot.
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Using the same win probabilities that fuel our weekly power rankings, the most likely win, other than the matchup against the Browns, is the game against the Detroit Lions in the regular season finale (40 percent win probability). Maybe the Packers’ job becomes easier if Lions quarterback Matt Stafford misses time after suffering a bone bruise in his right hand during Sunday’s 44-20 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, but at best that brings it to a 50/50 coin flip.

The hardest game remaining for Green Bay is against the Week 16 matchup against the Vikings (26 percent win probability), the No. 1 team in our power rankings. According to Football Outsiders, Minnesota is the fifth-best team in the NFL, with an offense that ranks No. 4 and a defense that ranks No. 6.

Perhaps you bump up the Packers’ chances in the games Rodgers could be expected to play after he returns from injury, but the boost won’t be as big as you might think. The Packers’ offense scored 9.4 points more than expected with Rodgers under center rather than Hundley, but that was including a disastrous game in Week 11 against the Baltimore Ravens, which featured five turnovers, three of which were interceptions thrown by Hundley. In the five other games started by Hundley this season, Green Bay’s offense scored 6.5 points per game more than expected. In other words, expect the Packers to be underdogs in each game following the one against the Browns no matter who lines up under center.