Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

Browns sign free agent wide receiver David Nelson

david nelson cleveland brownsThe Cleveland Browns added to their depth at wide receiver on Monday, signing unrestricted free agent David Nelson to a reported one-year contract.

Nelson is a big target (6-foot-5 and 214 pounds) and, more importantly, was second in receptions for the Buffalo Bills in 2010 and 2011. For his NFL career, he has 94 receptions for 1,042 yards and eight touchdowns.

In their rankings of free agent wide receivers, Pro Football Focus wrote that Nelson “possesses the kind of size and talent that plenty of personnel people around the league will think they can exploit. … In 2011, Nelson emerged as one of the leading slot receivers in the league, finishing seventh overall in terms of slot yardage.”

What’s that? You don’t remember seeing Nelson on the field when the Browns took on Buffalo in Week 3?

Well, that’s the rub. Nelson tore an anterior cruciate ligament in Week 1 of the season and was out for the rest of the season following surgery.

While no one wants to get injured, obviously, in February Nelson told a reporter for The Buffalo News that the injury was “a blessing” because it happened on the opening weekend, giving him time to work his way back for the start of the 2013 season.

“The way it’s progressing right now, I’m hoping to be full-go for OTAs,” Nelson said in the story. “I’ll try to work myself in slowly and then be full-go for mandatory minicamp and then hit camp at 100 percent.”

In the same article, Nelson said he was running pass routes, moving laterally and going through plyometric workouts as part of his recovery. He did admit to not doing a lot of cutting and was having an “issue” with deceleration, but that was almost two months ago.

If healthy, Nelson could be a good pickup for the Browns, especially as they only currently have one year invested in him. If Nelson can get on the field, he gives the Browns a nice sized wide receiver trio of Greg Little (6-foot-2, 220) and Josh Gordon (6-3, 225) that could give opposing defensive backs some problems – not only in the passing game but also as downfield blockers for Trent Richardson.

“David possesses very good size and hands, and has a good feel for the game,” Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said in a news release. “He showed promise with Buffalo two years ago before missing most of last season with an injury, and we feel as though he will be a good addition to our group of wide receivers.”

Even with one bad leg, Nelson is unquestionably a huge upgrade over Mohamed Massaquoi, who signed last week with Jacksonville.

Nelson also made headlines in 2011 when, after scoring a touchdown in a game against Dallas, he showed he’s a good guy by presenting the ball to Cowboys cheerleader Kelsi Reich – who he was dating at the time.

(Photo by Getty Images)

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