David Nelson has started on his road to recovery.
The Buffalo Bills' wide receiver left Tuesday for Pensacola, Fla., where he'll undergo surgery to repair his torn ACL on Thursday. The operation will be performed by renowned orthopaedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews at the Andrews-Paulos Research and Education Institute in Gulf Breeze, Fla., outside Pensacola.
From there, Nelson will return to his hometown of Dallas on Saturday, where he'll begin rehabilitation Monday at Athletes Performance Institute.
"My thought process is I want to go somewhere where I have someone who's going to completely 100 percent focus on me," Nelson said this week, speaking to The News for the first time since being hurt in the season opener Sept. 9 in New York.
"Rightfully so, the focus here is to get guys ready for Sunday, so I felt like if I was going to go to the training room, I'd see the trainers and they'd say 'here's what you need to do, go do it' and then they'd go work on Fred or whoever to get him ready for Sunday, which is what should happen. I'm not complaining about that at all, I think that's the right way to do it. But for me, I just need to go off site somewhere and get ready to come back."
Nelson watched from the press box Sunday as the Bills thoroughly dominated the Kansas City Chiefs. While he cheered the result, the circumstances were rather miserable.
"Without a doubt was the hardest part of this yet. You get put on IR and they put you in the press box, so you're not even on the field," he said. "You can't feel the emotion, you can't celebrate with your teammates. . It's devastating, it really is, because you put so much work in. Coming into the season you do so much and then to only get three quarters of play, and now I've got to sit there and watch."
Nelson was hurt early in the fourth quarter of the season opener. Running a 10-yard out route down the left side of the field - a play in which he was actually the intended receiver - Nelson planted on his right foot, cutting 90 degrees to his left. As he was planting, Jets cornerback Kyle Wilson had a hand under Nelson's jersey, near his shoulder pads.
"I was trying to plant, he was going that way, I was going this way and my foot got caught in the turf and it just popped," Nelson said.
"I knew right away. The doctors knew. It wasn't a dirty play by any means. I know Kyle and he would never do anything like that on purpose. It was just an accident."
Nelson missed the last game of his rookie year in 2010 because of a minor injury, but the 25-year-old has otherwise been healthy throughout college and his professional career.
A major rehab will be a new challenge.
"It's something that in a way I'm actually excited about. I relish the opportunity to take up a challenge. I came into the league undrafted. I kind of worked my way up in college to be a starter and get some playing time there and I worked my way into this league and I enjoy the challenge," he said.
"I enjoy an obstacle. I enjoy the adversity to say it's going to be a long journey, but I'm excited about it. That's the way I have to approach it. I can't sit here and feel sorry for myself."