Nelson, a member of the Buffalo Bills the past three years, suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his knee during the regular-season opener and missed the remaining 15 games of last season.
“It felt great,” Nelson said of Tuesday’s practice. “It was the first time I was able to put the uniform on, first time I was able to be out here for practice and it was a lot of fun to see the guys flying around and being out here, being part of a team again. I haven’t been a part of a practice like this since September, so it’s really nice to be back out here.”
After going through his first workout as a member of the Browns, Nelson said he was “about 90 percent” back from the torn ACL.
“I’m just in that last phase of making sure I can do the volume of reps when training camp comes around,” Nelson said. “Right now, I’m just taking it easy. I didn’t want to come out here, practice this week and then, have a minor setback and not be ready to go for training camp. That’s been the goal all along, when I signed here, to be ready for training camp. That’s the goal right now, and we feel like it’s going to be accomplished.”
“He’s in good shape,” Browns coach Rob Chudzinski added. “David is another one who is real close and if we wanted to push him, we could have maybe pushed him out on the field at this point. He will be ready for training camp and that is our expectation. It’s good to be back. He had a great rehab with somebody he is real familiar and comfortable with, so we got that done. He is a sharp guy.”
Once he signed with the Browns back on April 8, Nelson stayed in his hometown of Dallas to work with trainer Sherry Waters, whom he knew from his days at the University of Florida. However, with the Browns able to send practice videos to players’ iPads, Nelson was able to stay in touch with everything going on in Berea.
“I’ve been able to watch practice every day,” Nelson said. “Even though I was in Dallas, I was able to see all the practices; I’ve been able to read all the playbooks; the coaches have been putting notes through different plays and different video sessions for me to read. Even though I haven’t physically been in the meeting, mentally, I’ve been there. It’s just been an amazing four weeks to be able to do that, get everything accomplished and come back and feel like I haven’t missed a beat mentally. When training camp rolls around, I just hope I can hit the ground running.”
Nelson is working to get back in time for training camp, where he is expecting to compete for playing time, one of the main reasons he signed with the Browns.
“I was looking for an opportunity to come in here and showcase what I can do, and coming off an ACL surgery, just get an opportunity to play,” Nelson said. “With the new coaching staff, with the offense that (coordinator) Norv (Turner) has, coming in here felt like just a great opportunity. I know Coach Chud; I know his style; I know his track record; I know the style of players he likes to use, and I feel like I can fit that mold. I just want to be a part of something special, and I feel like this is going to be a very special place.”