The New York Jets have added a big body to their active roster, signing tight end Shawn Nelson to the 53-man roster after working out several free agent players during their Week 8 bye.
Nelson, an athletic 6’5 tight end, has apparently been on Jets coach Rex Ryan’s radar since he was coming out of college in 2009.
“When I watched him, the thing that I was impressed with on the college tape was obviously, what jumps out to you is how big he is, a 6’5 target, but he can really run,” Ryan said.
Nelson ran the 40-yard draft in under 4.6 seconds when he was coming out of college, and although the Jets weren’t able to get him on draft day, they always kept an eye on him.
“The thing that really got my attention was he could pass block, as well,” Ryan said. “I thought that was interesting for a basketball body-type guy, but he can pass block. I was always interested in him and then when we had the opportunity we were able to bring him on board.”
The Buffalo Bills drafted the former Southern Miss Golden Eagle in the fourth round of the 2009 draft, but released him prior to the start of this season, as he was evidently not a fit under head coach Chan Gailey.
The 26-year-old Nelson was suspended for four games without pay in 2010 for violating the NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse, and has 20 career receptions in 17 games.
A physical specimen coming out of Southern Miss, Nelson has reportedly bulked up to over 270 pounds as he’s growing into his massive frame and continuing to work on his blocking.
The Jets have used second tight end Matthew Mulligan as a blocker a lot the last few weeks, and although he’s had his moments, he hasn’t exactly given the Jets what they need out of that spot.
After losing athletic tight end Jeff Cumberland for the season back in Week 3, the Jets could certainly benefit from having a third reliable tight end on the roster.
Nelson has a pretty good chance of making his Jets debut this upcoming Sunday against his former team, the Buffalo Bills, who are one of the NFL’s feel-good stories at 5-2, one game ahead of New York.
Occasionally we’ll see teams pick up players prior to a game against that player’s former team, in an attempt to try to get information on that team’s tendencies. But I think Nelson is here to stay.
It’ll be interesting to see if Nelson is activated on Sunday after just one week of practice, but the Jets might just give him a shot.
Two months ago, a Jets-Bills matchup didn’t seem like it would have so much on the line. The Jets outscored the Bills 76-21 in their two meetings last season.
But this year, Buffalo is much improved, and it would be an enormous statement for the young upstart Bills to defend their home turf against a team that’s bullied them in recent years.
There’s no doubt that Shawn Nelson will be fired up to be back at Ralph Wilson Stadium this weekend. The Jets and Bills kick off on Sunday afternoon at 1pm.