Big play J.J.: Cardinals wide receiver produces

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J.J. Nelson was all smiles after making a big play in Sunday's win. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) J.J. Nelson was all smiles after making a big play in Sunday's win. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Nelson caught a key 45-yard touchdown in Sunday's win. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Nelson caught a key 45-yard touchdown in Sunday's win. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
TEMPE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

Cardinals receiver J.J. Nelson is making a name for himself.

Despite being one of the smallest players on the field, Nelson made one of the biggest plays in the Cardinals first win of the season at Indianapolis.

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“Once we broke the huddle, Carson told me the post was live,” said Nelson, discussing his 45-yard touchdown catch in double coverage. “I knew the ball was coming my way.”

Nelson earned the "NFC Offensive Player of the Week" award for his 120 yards and one tochdown effort in the 16-13 win over the Colts.

Nelson has shown flashes of greatness. Now in his third season, Nelson caught 34 passes and six touchdowns in 2016. This season, Nelson has 10 catches but he has yet to play all 16 games in a season.

“For him, it’s been hand injuries, hitting the ground and breaking a thumb,” said Cardinals coach Bruce Arians. “We’ve just got to keep him upright and he’ll make big plays every week.”

He didn’t even play varsity football until the 11th grade. Nelson was a basketball player and track star after quitting football in junior high.

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“I didn’t really get the opportunity that I wanted, growing up, especially in middle school,” said Nelson, who grew up in Midfield, Alabama. “That’s what lead me to quitting. I’m not a quitter but I know my ability and I felt like I wasn’t getting that opportunity. That’s why I decided to play basketball. Finally, in the 11th grade, I decided to play football again and here I am.”

Nelson won the Alabama state championship twice in the 100-meter dash. He also won the 200-meter dash with a time of 21.76 seconds. Nelson went on to play college football at UAB and was named 2014 College Football All-American. 

“I thank all the people that encouraged me and pretty much begged me to start back playing football again,” said Nelson. “As I got older, I started seeing guys, 6-4, 6-5, playing point guard. I’m 5-10.”

Many of those people that encouraged him will be in Arizona this week. He's trying to track down 15 tickets for friends and family when the Dallas Cowboys visit for Monday Night Football.

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