Cardinals speedster J.J. Nelson reveals fear of flying, his playing weight

Sep 18, 2017, 1:04 PM | Updated: 3:42 pm
Arizona Cardinals' J.J. Nelson (14) is chased by Indianapolis Colts' Kenny Moore during the first h...
Arizona Cardinals' J.J. Nelson (14) is chased by Indianapolis Colts' Kenny Moore during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)
(AP Photo/AJ Mast)
LISTEN: J.J. Nelson, Arizona Cardinals wide receiver

J.J. Nelson can fly on the field.

Don’t mistake that for the Arizona Cardinals receiver liking to fly through the air en route to road games. Joining The Blitz with B-Train & Jurecki on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station, Nelson revealed Monday that plane travel terrifies him.

“I feel like everybody on the team know that now,” Nelson admitted. “Anytime we hit some turbulence or anything like that, they looking at me. It ain’t got better, but I have this trick: I try to sit by the window. We have seating charts, but for some reason, they always sit me in the middle.

“This weekend, I got a window seat. I have to leave the window open so I can see where we at. So if we hit some turbulence, I’m like, ‘OK, we in the clouds,’ ” and not crashing, he added. “Another thing: I have to have the flight monitor on, see what state we at.”

Apparently, Nelson’s nerves calm by gametime.

He’s recorded seven touchdowns over his last seven games played, and his 45-yard grab at the end of a Carson Palmer deep ball Sunday in a win over the Indianapolis Colts certainly came in timely fashion.

It’s the fifth-round pick’s speed that makes him such a dangerous weapon for the Cardinals offense. And Arizona has needed the 25-year-old wide receiver to stretch the field in place of John Brown, who continues battling injuries.

While Nelson’s 4.28 40-yard dash time at the 2015 NFL Draft Combine exemplifies the receiver’s speed, he’s also flashed better hands of late.

“He’s starting to become the player I’ve always known he could be,” head coach Bruce Arians told Bickley & Marotta on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station on Monday. “He’s kind of done it on a consistent level over the last year and a half.”

And his more consistent hands aren’t just showing when coming down with passes from Palmer.

“Smoke (John Brown) tried to get me last week,” Nelson said of Brown’s attempt at taking a video of him during a flight. “I grabbed his phone real fast.”

The little guy’s been here before

Nelson only got one Division I offer out of high school — to UAB, near his home town of Midfield, Ala. When he came out for the draft, only four teams met with him before the Cardinals took him 159th overall.

At 5-foot-10 and listed at 160 pounds, Nelson is used to being the underdog, the smallest player on the field. At one point in middle school, he was so fed up with being overlooked, he even quit football.

“I started playing basketball. A lot of people begged me to go out and play (football in high school) because they knew the talent I had growing up,” he said. “I’ve been like this my entire life … (Hearing) ‘we don’t think you’re ready.’ It’s nothin’ to me.”

So on to the question you want to know: How much does Nelson weigh while playing one of the most physically-punishing sports?

A hundred sixty-two, maybe 163 pounds.

“That’s probably the most I’ve weighed,” Nelson said.

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