David Nelson was home in Texas and getting ready to head to a baseball game Monday night, when his agent called.
Forget the Texas Rangers-Tampa Bay Rays wild-card tiebreaker, he told the wide receiver.
”You should probably watch the football game,” Nelson recalled him saying. ”Because you’re going to be playing next Monday night.”
The New York Jets signed Nelson on Wednesday, and the former Buffalo Bills wide receiver could make an immediate impact on a banged-up receiving corps. Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill could both be sidelined for the Jets’ game against the Falcons at Atlanta on Monday night, so Nelson might need to be ready to play despite just getting to his new team.
”I’m confident that I can, when it comes to Monday,” Nelson said, ”I’ll know where to be and when to be there.”
Holmes tweaked a hamstring at Tennessee last Sunday and is expected to miss a few games. Hill suffered a concussion, and his status was uncertain.
”I think David is going to be a big-time target for us,” quarterback Geno Smith said.
Nelson played with Buffalo from 2010-12 and caught 94 passes for 1,042 yards and eight touchdowns. He signed with Cleveland in the offseason but was among the Browns’ final cuts before the regular season. The 6-foot-5, 215-pound Nelson’s best season came in 2011, when he had 61 receptions for 658 yards and five touchdowns.
”I’ve never been involved in a West Coast system, per se,” Nelson said about offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg’s offense. ”Routes are similar. It’s just done in a little bit different manner as far as motioning and formations. But the routes are the same, so it’s just figuring out what routes go with what concept.”
He said he’s completely healthy after he tore a ligament in his right knee in the Bills’ season opener last year – against the Jets at MetLife Stadium.
Nelson, who impressed the Jets during a workout last week, spent several hours working with receivers coach Sanjay Lal on Tuesday. Nelson said Smith also introduced himself and immediately took him to the film room to watch the Falcons’ offense together.
”He’s a veteran guy, and you’ve got to get him up to speed in a hurry,” coach Rex Ryan said. ”I have no idea how much he knows of this system or anything else right now. But I know we had to defend against him. He’s a very capable receiver.”
In four games against the Jets, Nelson had 15 receptions for 189 yards and two TDs — both in 2011.
”I told him it’s good to finally be on his side so I don’t have to worry about his schemes anymore,” Nelson said he told Ryan. ”And he turned around and said, `It’s good to have you on my side so I don’t have to worry about scheming against you anymore. So, that was comforting and gave me a lot of confidence.”
Oh, and as far as that Rangers game, Nelson still went and watched Texas’ season end with a 5-2 loss to Tampa Bay.
”I’m a huge Rangers fan, and a huge baseball fan,” Nelson said. ”It was just a chance to celebrate with my brother and spend one last night in Dallas before it was back to the grind.”