The New York Jets have had some injury issues at wide receiver this season, and those problems forced them to sign David Nelson for depth in Week 5. At the time, it was thought that Nelson would be little more than an emergency option for the team, and that his stay in New York could be over quickly.
However, Nelson has surprisingly started to become a solid contributor for the Jets in the absence of Santonio Holmes. Nelson caught 4 passes for 80 yards in Sunday’s 30-27 win over the New England Patriots, and he looked like a player who could become a reliable target for Geno Smith.
Nelson was once a promising player for the Buffalo Bills, and he caught 61 passes for 658 yards and 5 TDs in 2011, his second season in the NFL. However, a knee injury cost him all of 2012, and he was unable to find a team at the beginning of this season. Patience and hard work have paid off for Nelson with Jets though, and the team is surely happy that they gave him a chance.
Holmes’ return date remains in question, and Nelson figures to see his role in the offense continue to grow while Holmes is out. Nelson is a good route-runner and has reliable hands, which are two things that a rookie quarterback like Smith needs in his receivers. Nelson is not a big play threat, but he is a very good third down target, which is a huge asset to any offense.
Going forward, Nelson’s presence could and probably should reduce Stephen Hill’s role in the Jets’ offense. When Holmes returns, he and Jeremy Kerley will be the Jets’ two most targeted receivers. Kerley is best in the slot, and Hill has struggled as the other outside receiver. Nelson would be a better fit for the Jets in that position because he is much more consistent, even though he lacks Hill’s speed.
The Jets were not expecting much out of Nelson when they signed him, but it appears they have stumbled upon a player who could be very useful for them. Look for the Jets to give Nelson more opportunities, and he should continue to be productive.