JR Nelson is back starting for the Grizzlies at cornerback (MTN Sports photo).

MISSOULA – The Grizzly defense has impressed. And now they just added another senior leader back to the mix. Cornerback JR Nelson returned from suspension to make his first start at Northern Arizona.

Nelson had to sit out the first half of the season because he failed a drug test during the playoffs last year. He doesn’t want to talk about the details of his suspension. The Hacienda Heights California native came back and immediately made some plays, breaking up three passes versus the Lumberjacks. He has remained a leader for the Griz all season, doing whatever he could in practice.

“Some of the practices I was the scout guy, giving the starters a look when they needed it,” said Nelson, who even played some wide receiver in practice. “Special teams, just doing my job, whatever my job is.”

Nelson jumped right back into the starting lineup in his first game, which wasn’t an easy transition. “You’re never game ready until you play the game,” he admitted. “First quarter I was exhausted. I was really tired. But I settled in after the second quarter and got my feet under me. Definitely be a lot more ready this time around.”

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The Grizzlies will need Nelson and the rest of the secondary ready when they kickoff in Cheney at 1:30 Saturday afternoon. They’ll take on the number one ranked passing offense in the nation when Montana battles Eastern Washington.