AFC East Q&A: Bills WR David Nelson

September, 22, 2011
9/22/11
10:00
AM ET
It's been a special week for Buffalo Bills receiver David Nelson.

Undrafted in 2010, Nelson is now in the national spotlight after making the game-winning touchdown catch for Buffalo against the Oakland Raiders. He led the surprising Bills (2-0) with 10 receptions for 83 yards and a touchdown.

Nelson spoke with ESPN.com's AFC East blog this week to discuss a variety of topics, including his draft experience and Sunday's big matchup against the New England Patriots (2-0).

What's this week been like after making the final catch?

David Nelson: It's been crazy to tell you the truth. For me, I enjoy interviews and interacting with the media and interacting with the fans. But to be honest with you, I get a little uncomfortable with people calling me the hero of a game or the game winner. There was 10 other guys [on offense] who were doing their job. There's 11 other guys on the defensive side. The special teams was playing unbelievable. So to have some people say "I'm the hero" or "I'm the game winner" makes me very uncomfortable.

[+] EnlargeDavid Nelson
Kirby Lee/Image of Sport/US PresswireDavid Nelson is looking forward to seeing how the Bills match up with New England on Sunday.
What about you draft experience. No team picked you up. How did you feel at that time?

Nelson: It was tough. Obviously we knew my name wasn't going to be called on Day 1. But it was nice to see some of my teammates get drafted that first day. So I was watching and rooting for my college buddies and friends I met through the draft process. The second day was a long shot, but some teams told me you never know what can happen. The second day went and came and nothing happened. The third day was the longest day of my life. Starting with the fifth round and sixth round, teams were calling me and saying they were going to draft me. Then they would come up and my name wasn't called. So it was an emotional rollercoaster. But I knew coming into the draft that it was a good possibility that I wasn't going in the draft, and I wasn't going to let anybody get me down.

How did you end up in Buffalo?

Nelson: It was because of the conversation I had with Chan [Gailey]. Chan called me on draft day. We did our research in anticipation I didn't get drafted. We talked to about three or four teams we felt would be the best fit for me just in case I didn’t get drafted. I had already known about Chan and his offense, and how he used his big receivers and four-wide receiver sets. So after talking with him, he said he was going to give everybody a fair shot. He liked what I did at Florida and he would give me an opportunity to come in and compete. And that's all I can ask for. Going undrafted all I wanted was to come in, compete for a job and show what I can do. Coming in from Day 1, he gave me that opportunity. He was a man of his word.

Are you aware Gailey also is a Gator alum and played there in the 1970s?

Nelson: You know, he mentioned that in the talk. I think he mentioned that he was a Gator and he wanted to get a couple more out here. It was a joke. It didn't have anything to do with my decision, but it was good to know. And I did my research. I know Chan is a good man. He's a man of his word. I talked to a lot of people who played under him and they had nothing but great things to say about him. I wasn't going to go into this decision blindly, and I was excited about getting the chance. When he called me, him and Coach [Bill] Belichick, those were the only two head coaches who called me on the phone. So that meant a lot. From the head person himself, that meant that Chan was going to give me an opportunity to compete.

It’s interesting Gailey and Belichick both called. That leads me to my next question. What's your thoughts on Sunday's game against Belichick and the Patriots?

Nelson: We're excited about the opportunity. It's a division rivalry. We have goals that we want to accomplish. One of those goals is to get to the playoffs. In order to get to the playoffs you have to beat teams in our division. Not only do we have to beat teams in our division, we have to win those games at home. This week New England is coming in. We have a confidence about us winning two games in a row. They're 2-0. This town, this city is buzzing right now. They finally have some hope and the stadium is going to be rocking.

What's it like playing in the slot? Not every receiver can do it.

Nelson: It's a real different speed in the slot, because you have linebackers screaming across your face. You have guys blitzing across you. You got coverages that are changing. You have to use your knowledge of the coverage. Your routes have to be more precise. You have to understand the coverages, and a lot of times for me it's being able to find the hole.

A lot of slot receivers are Wes Welker types, much smaller. You're the exception at 6-foot-5, 220 pounds. Why aren't there as many bigger slot players in the NFL?

Nelson: That's a good question, and I don't have the answer to that. I just feel comfortable there. I'm a smooth route-runner. It's something I pride myself in. I'm not a blazing 4.3, 40 [-yard dash] guy. But I do have deceptive speed. I have to rely on my hands because I'm not that 4.3 guy.

Has the game slowed down for you in your second season?

Nelson: I wouldn't say it slowed down. But I do feel more comfortable out there. I do have a little more confidence. When you have more confidence, you play at a higher speed. So I wouldn't say the game has slowed down. I would say that I'm playing a little faster. I'm able to pick up coverages faster. Me and Fitz [quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick] have a better understanding of each other now. He knows where I’m going to be. I know where he’s going to want the ball. So I'd say I'm playing at a faster pace.

Not a lot of people realize Fred Jackson is leading the NFL in rushing after two weeks. How much has he meant to the Bills' offense?

Nelson: The thing that impresses me so much about Fred is his yards after the contact. He's not letting one guy bring him down. He's running through tackles. He's getting extra yards. He's fighting for the first down, and that motivates the team. When you see a guy like that just running through tackles and running through defenders and taking it upon himself, that gets guys jacked up. That motivates our entire team and gets us going. Fred Jackson's our leader. I love that guy to death. I'm so excited for him and so happy with what he's done so far.

James Walker | email

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter

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