Now we know why Bills tight end Shawn Nelson did not play in Thursday night's game in Toronto. Nelson has been suspended four games for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.
Nelson is eligible to return for the fifth game of the season, at home against Jacksonville on Oct. 10. This move pretty much secures Jonathan Stupar as the starting tight end for the season.
Michael Matthews, the 270-pounder, is the No. 2 tight end at the moment. Veteran tight end Derek Schouman suffered a knee injury in the second quarter of the game against the Colts. If Schouman is out an extended period the Bills probably will have to add a tight end to the roster.
How much does Nelson's suspension hurt the offense to start the season? It takes away an option. It's likely the Bills will have to use a tight end to help in pass protection a fair amount. Nelson would not factor into that equation. The Bills have two or three other "big receiver" options they can use in the slot instead of Nelson. Those would be James Hardy, David Nelson and Chad Jackson. Hardy should be ready to come back from a 10-day leg injury any day. Nelson is out probably several weeks with an injury in the ankle area. So it would be good for the Bills if Hardy comes back and starts making an impact over the final two preseason games.