BEREA — David Nelson might be the only Browns player counting down the minutes until their preseason finale Thursday in Chicago.
The wide receiver hasn’t appeared in an NFL game since Sept. 9, 2012, when he tore his right anterior cruciate ligament in Buffalo’s season opener against the Jets.
“It’s been a crazy ride, a crazy year, the most frustrating year of my life,” Nelson said Monday before practice. “I think the trainers have done a great job getting me ready to go and my knee is stronger than ever. I feel 100 percent confident in it and I’m just ready to show what I can do.”
The 6-foot-5, 215-pounder underwent reconstructive knee surgery last fall, preventing him from being medically cleared until August.
But shortly after Nelson began practicing with Cleveland, he suffered a bone bruise on the same knee, shutting him down for three more weeks. He insists that the injuries are unrelated, but admits they have prevented him from developing chemistry with quarterback Brandon Weeden.
“I threw with him maybe five times in the entire training camp, so I’m obviously not where I want to be,” said Nelson, who owns 94 receptions for 1,042 yards and eight touchdowns in his three-year NFL career. “But Coach (Rob Chudzinski) has done a great job kind of speeding my process along in the past week. I’m extremely confident in what I can do and what my body will be able to let me do.”
Though Nelson played in the slot with the Bills, Chudzinski and offensive coordinator Norv Turner envision him lining up all over the field. The 26-year-old Texan hopes that will be the case when the regular season begins Sept. 8.
“Saying this summer has been frustrating is putting it extremely lightly,” Nelson said. “You see your teammates going through camp and you feel the atmosphere and everything that’s going on, but you’re not out there with them.
“I honestly was ready to go last week, but it was a cautionary thing. They just decided not to go (with me) and I had to live with it. I’m ready to go, and it’s about time.”
If there was any doubt about Nelson’s roster status, it was removed later in the day when Cleveland terminated the contract of wide receiver Jordan Norwood.
Norwood, Nelson and Josh Cooper were believed to be battling for two spots, while Greg Little, Josh Gordon, Davone Bess, and Travis Benjamin have long been locks to make the team.
The 26-year-old Norwood was plagued by injuries throughout his stay with the Browns, but did make a team season-high nine receptions on Oct. 7, 2012 at the New York Giants.
“What an awesome three years in Cleveland,” Norwood said on his Twitter account. “I thank God for the people I’ve had the pleasure of coming in contact with. Continued blessings to you all.”
Tight end Jordan Cameron (groin), defensive end Desmond Bryant (back spasms), safety Jamoris Slaughter (groin), cornerback Chris Owens (foot), wide receiver Naaman Roosevelt (hamstring) and kicker Brandon Bogotay (groin) did not practice, but worked with trainers on the field. Cameron, who has six receptions in the preseason, is listed as day to day with a groin strain.
• Wide receiver Bess (knee tendinitis), outside linebacker Jabaal Sheard (knee) and tight end Gary Barnidge (shoulder) returned to practice.
“I feel good, so it’s all on Coach if I play (against the Bears),” Barnidge said.
• Out with significant injuries are outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo (bruised lung), cornerback Trevin Wade (shoulder), running back Montario Hardesty (knee surgery), guards Shawn Lauvao (ankle surgery) and Jason Pinkston (high ankle sprain) and tackles Ryan Miller (concussion) and Chris Faulk (knee surgery).
• Running back Dion Lewis (left leg fracture) was placed on season-ending injured reserve. The third-year pro suffered a broken leg Aug. 15 against Detroit and underwent surgery to repair a fractured fibula four days later.
The Browns placed four additional players on waivers, reducing their roster to 82. Defensive end Dave Kruger, wide receiver Cordell Roberson, linebacker Tommy Smith and cornerback Vernon Kearney received their pink slips prior to practice. Kruger, an undrafted rookie from Utah, is the younger brother of outside linebacker Paul Kruger. All NFL teams must cut down to 75 players by 4 p.m. today, then reach the regular-season limit of 53 before Saturday at 6 p.m.
• Former Cleveland wide receivers Braylon Edwards (Jets), Joshua Cribbs (Raiders), Donte Stallworth (Redskins) and Carlton Mitchell (Buccaneers) also got the early axe.
Fun with numbers
Cornerback Joe Haden, safety Tashaun Gipson and linebackers Quentin Groves and Paul Kruger played a team-high 46 snaps Saturday in the Browns’ 27-6 loss to the Colts. Safety T.J. Ward logged 45 and cornerback Buster Skrine was on the field for 44. Cleveland’s offensive snap leaders with 39 were quarterback Brandon Weeden, center Alex Mack, guards John Greco and tackles Joe Thomas and Mitchell Schwartz. Little was next with 38.
Miley Cyrus’ offensive performance at the MTV Video Music Awards was viewed by the Browns’ offensive line before practice. Six-time Pro Bowl tackle Thomas was screening the clip on his iPad.
• Chudzinski was not made available to the media because of a schedule change by the team’s public relations staff.
• Cleveland is tied with Baltimore and Cincinnati atop the AFC North Division preseason standings at 2-1. Pittsburgh is last at 0-3.
Contact Brian Dulik at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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