Friday, February 8, 2013

Jones’s departure puts pressure on Nelson’s return


Now that the Buffalo Bills have made wide receiver Donald Jones’s departure certain, the team can now look toward the more uncertain: the health and progress of wide receiver David Nelson.

Before tearing a ligament in his knee in Week 1, Nelson was a solid target for quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick in 2011, amassing more than 650 yards on 61 catches. He made his living primarily in the slot, an area the Bills’ struggled with in 2012. (photo: Matt Britt, Flickr)

With Jones now out of the picture, Buffalo will look to Nelson to bring stability back to the role so they can shift their focus on the perimeter passing game.

Nelson told Tim Graham of the Buffalo News earlier in the week that he intends to be 100 percent well before the team’s trip to St. John Fisher for training camp.

"There's uncertainty in coming back off a knee surgery, especially at the position that I play,” Nelson said. “You don't want to invest in somebody who's not going to be the same player they were. I understand that.

“That's why it's my job to make sure my knee's 100 percent, so when I show up to training camp I'm giving them what they need."

Buffalo’s deep-threat option was addressed last year with the drafting of T.J. Graham, and general manager Buddy Nix has made it clear that he would like another receiver on the outside with Stevie Johnson’s acrobatic abilities. Look for guys like Dwayne Bowe, Mike Wallace and Greg Jennings to be on the Bills’ list of free-agent targets, but don't be surprised if Nix uses his second or third round pick on another value wideout like Graham.

As far as Nelson is concerned, he’s just happy to have a chance at a full offseason of workouts. Nelson told Tim Graham with any luck he'd be at full steam come OTAs, and that he was fortunate his injury wasn't closer to midseason.

"It was a blessing to have it happen so early," he said. "Now I can be ready to go."

Follow Dan @DanBegnoche
Follow AFC East Daily @AFCEastDaily