By Tim Graham
NEW ORLEANS -- The absence of injured receiver David Nelson was an often-overlooked reason for the Buffalo Bills' offensive struggles.
Nelson crumpled to the Meadowlands turf with a torn knee ligament on opening day against the New York Jets and was done for the season. The loss hurt. He caught 61 passes for 658 yards and five touchdowns in 2011.
Nelson now calls the timing of his injury "a blessing" because he is so far along in his recovery that the knee should be back to normal well in advance of training camp.
"The way it's progressing right now, I'm hoping to be full-go for OTAs," Nelson told me in the Super Bowl XLVII media center, where he made the rounds at Radio Row. "I'll try to work myself in slowly and then be full-go for mandatory minicamp and then hit camp at 100 percent.
"It was a blessing to have it happen so early. Now I can be ready to go."
Nelson revealed he has been running pass routes, moving laterally and doing plyometric workouts. He said he's not cutting much, and deceleration "still gives me a little bit of an issue," but claimed he's ahead of schedule in his recovery.
"It's a whole different animal when you talk about competition or running a route against somebody or getting tackled or having to block somebody," Nelson said.
"People tell you not to push it too hard because in the long run it could come back to haunt you. So when I feel a little pain, I try to slow down. I push it to the point I feel like I get some good work in."
Nelson hopes the injury won't hinder his status with the Bills.
It shouldn't. He is a restricted free agent after finishing up the rookie contract he signed as an undrafted free agent three years ago. He'll be a bargain for somebody.
Nelson said Bills vice president of football administration Jim Overdorf has reached out to agent Joel Segal to express interest in re-signing Nelson.
"I'm restricted," Nelson said, "so I'm limited to what I can do, but just knowing there's some interest is all I need right now.
"There's uncertainty in coming back off a knee surgery, especially at the position that I play. You don't want to invest in somebody who's not going to be the same player they were. I understand that. That's why it's my job to make sure my knee's 100 percent, so when I show up to training camp I'm giving them what they need."
Nelson is rehabbing in the Dallas area and hasn't met with new Bills coach Doug Marrone or receivers coach Ike Hilliard, but he said he has exchanged texts with them.
"I love the hire," Nelson said. "As a receiver, you want an offensive-minded guy, somebody who likes to throw the ball around. Coach Marrone's track record shows that from New Orleans and Syracuse."
taggedDavid Nelson | Super Bowl XLVII