After spending the last 11 months recuperating from a torn knee ligament and battling his way through a bone bruise over the last three weeks, Cleveland Browns wide receiver
The six-foot-three, 215-pound Nelson said calling the last year of his life “frustrating” would be an understatement.
“It’s been a crazy ride. It’s been a crazy year for me,” said Nelson, who signed with the Browns as a free agent on April 8. “It’s been the most frustrating and disappointing, hardest year of my life. It’s one of those things where I’ve got to continue to push. I made it this far, and I’m excited for the opportunity.
“As an athlete, stuff like that comes up. Adversity in your life, adversity on the field happens. You’ve just got to handle it the best way you know how. I’m trying to handle that the best way I know, continue to move, continue to push forward to get on the field and show what I can do.”
Although he has yet to test his knee at game speed, Nelson has been able to practice with the team for more than a week. He feels “extremely confident” his knee will respond well to its first game action since last September, when he suffered a torn ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) in the Buffalo Bills’ season-opening win over the New York Jets.
“I feel like my knee’s stronger than ever, and I feel really good to go,” Nelson said. “I feel 100 percent confident in it, and I’m just ready to show what I can do.
“You can’t put words on (returning). Even though you practice as hard as you can, practice is still considered a controlled environment. They’re not hitting full-speed. You’re going against the same guys you see every day. It’s great to go out there and react in an NFL game and be able to adjust to the speed of the game, get that feel again, get back into the groove and feel smooth about it. It’s going to be a valuable experience and very valuable time for me.”
Nelson, who describes himself as a “reliable and dependable” receiver that is able to “be in the right place at the right time,” knows that stepping onto the field prior to Thursday’s game against the Bears will bring about a range of emotions.
“I think I’ll be a little choked up running out there just because I know how hard I’ve worked to get back here,” Nelson said. “I know a lot of things that were thrown at me in the past year, and the things that I’ve had to overcome to get back to this position to play in the National Football League again. I’ve been working so hard to have this opportunity, and I’ll have a bunch of different emotions. I’ll be extremely excited. I’ll be out there having fun, and I’ll be out there doing what I can to help this team win.
“We’ve got a group of great guys who are making plays, a group of young guys who are just hungry and want to make a name and want to give this city something they can believe in. I just want to be a part of that.”