A groin injury coupled with a suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy has kept the second-year pro watching while his teammates have bumbled their way to an 0-5 start. Nelson, though, could be back on Sunday when Buffalo returns from its bye to play at Baltimore (4-2).
"I'll be ready. I'm more than sure I'll be ready," Nelson said. "It's no fun at all sitting at home watching when you know you can be out here helping these guys win and trying to make plays."
Nelson was eligible to be activated prior to Buffalo's loss to Jacksonville in Week 5, but two days before the game he tweaked the groin that he had surgery on. The Bills used their one-game exemption for him before officially placing him on the 53-man roster on Oct. 11. He missed practice all last week, but returned Monday.
"As far as the playbook, I feel like I'm on the same page, but it's different when you're watching film and looking in the playbook rather than actually being on the field and running the plays and everything," he said. "So, I think that's going to be the biggest key for me, just getting back in football shape."
Nelson was expected to take on a larger role coming into this season after a promising but inconsistent rookie year. He finished with 17 catches, and scored a touchdown in his very first game last season, but also missed four games because of injuries.
His blend of size (6-foot-5) and speed gave the Bills plenty to plan around as training camp began, but everything was derailed when the Southern Mississippi product was suspended for the first four games. It was a blow for both the player and a team that's still searching for that elusive win.
"You have to just roll with the punches and accept things as they come to you," Nelson said. "That's one thing that my grandmother taught me. You can't map out your life. You have to take it as it comes. That's my big thing."
Coach Chan Gailey will probably work Nelson gradually into a tight-end group that includes Jonathan Stupar and David Martin. Those two have combined for just seven catches.
"I'm eager to see him," Gailey said. "I want to see him play before I say we're eager for him to be on the field on a regular basis, but he certainly has some ability. The key is production on the field, and that's what we're looking for."
Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is also looking forward to having another outlet.
"Shawn's a vertical threat, a guy that can get down the field a little bit and catch the ball and make plays after the catch," he said. "He's a guy that we're looking forward to getting back."
Nelson and the rest of the Bills got back to work on Monday after taking the weekend off for the bye. Only injured starting cornerback Terrence McGee (leg) and starting right tackle Cornell Green (undisclosed) missed the short workout.
Notes: Both McGee and Green aren't expected to play against the Ravens. McGee has missed the past two games, while Green was injured in the Jaguars game. ... SS Jon Corto returned to practice Monday. He is on the PUP list with a wrist injury. ... Buffalo signed G Chad Rinehart to the team's practice squad on Monday, and released DE Sunny Harris. ... The Bills will go over a month between games played at their stadium in Orchard Park. Their next "home" game will be in Toronto on Nov. 7 against Chicago. ... Rookie RB C.J. Spiller had his No. 28 jersey retired by Clemson in a ceremony before the Tigers game Saturday.