David Nelson will experience a first in his professional career Sunday when he walks into Ralph Wilson Stadium as a visitor.
The former Buffalo Bills receiver will return to town with the New York Jets. Nelson comes in as his new team’s fifth-leading receiver, despite being signed four weeks into the season.
“I have some great memories in that stadium. A lot of my best games were played in that stadium,” Nelson said. “Hopefully I’ll feel right at home when I step on the field there, even though I’ll be on the other sideline and dressing in the other dressing room.”
Nelson made it clear that he’ll have some added motivation returning to the place where he spent his first three years in the NFL.
“Anybody who tells you when they play an old team or a team that cut them or something like that, that it’s just another game, is lying to you,” he said. “This is definitely more than just another game for me. It’s going to be an emotional game. It’s going to be a fun game. This game holds a little more in my heart than most others. … It’s going to be personal and I think you’ll see that on Sunday.”
Bills cornerback Leodis McKelvin said he expects it to be noisy on the field.
“We’ll get to rapping back and forth, chomping at each other. I’m looking forward to going at him in a real game,” McKelvin said.
The Bills elected not to offer Nelson a contract as a restricted free agent following the 2012 season. He signed with the Cleveland Browns, but was cut prior to the start of the regular season. Nelson was a productive player with the Bills when healthy, catching 61 passes for 658 yards and five touchdowns in 2011. He suffered a torn ACL in the 2012 season opener, however, missing the rest of the year.
“That’s just the way it is,” he said. “Because of the way it kind of ended, it’s still kind of a little difficult for me to swallow. But at the same time, I’m glad to be here.”
Nelson has 16 catches for 199 yards in five games.
“My teammates did a great job of taking it upon themselves to get me ready,” Nelson said. “My coaches did a great job of being proactive. Even if I said that I knew what I was doing, they made sure that I knew what I was doing – they really beat it in me. They really have seen something in me, and seen that I can help this team. … I’m hoping to pay them back with my play on Sunday.”
The Bills received a 24-hour extension Thursday to sell the remaining 3,500 tickets to Sunday’s game and avoid a local television blackout.
The new deadline is 1 p.m. today. There have not been any blackouts in the NFL this season.
Stevie Johnson missed his second straight practice Thursday, putting his availability for Sunday’s game in serious doubt.
“I don’t feel as good about him being able to play, but I can’t officially rule him out yet,” coach Doug Marrone said after practice.
Johnson injured his right groin in a Week 10 loss at Pittsburgh.
Marrone said the team will not call up a receiver from the practice squad, meaning the options for quarterback EJ Manuel at the position will be T.J. Graham, Marquise Goodwin, Chris Hogan and Marcus Easley. Rookie Robert Woods has been ruled out because of an ankle injury.
Safety Da’Norris Searcy returned to practice on a limited basis Thursday after sitting out Wednesday because of a hamstring injury.
“I have no issues there,” Marrone said. “Unless he has a setback during the week, he should be in great shape.”
Defensive tackle Kyle Williams (Achilles) was also back as a full participant at practice Thursday after taking his usual rest day Wednesday.
Jets tight end Kellen Winslow did not practice Thursday after being limited Wednesday because of a knee injury.