- Matt Ehalt, ESPN New York contributor
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- He's still learning the playbook, yet being asked to produce on Sunday.
For receiver David Nelson, there's no grace period. The Jets need him to contribute while veteran Santonio Holmes is sidelined with a hamstring injury. Sunday against New England, Nelson responded with his best game as a Jet, catching four balls for 80 yards in the 30-27 overtime win.
"He's actually come here, he's had to learn this system, but almost forced into playing a little bit, and the guy's really stepped up," Jets coach Rex Ryan said Wednesday.
The Jets signed Nelson on Oct. 2 and immediately thrust him into action against Atlanta five days later, with Nelson catching two passes in 15 snaps. The following week against the Steelers, he saw the field for 23 offensive snaps and caught one pass, before playing a season-high 65 snaps against the Patriots.
"As a competitor you come in and you expect a lot from yourself," Nelson said. "And you expect to come in and to play well and whenever the opportunity is presented, you make the play."
As the Jets await the return of Holmes, who hasn't practiced since suffering his hamstring injury on Sept. 29, they're going to need Nelson and Josh Cribbs to produce. The Jets aren't loaded with playmakers at receiver, and without Holmes, their best weapon, it leaves them lacking at the position.
Moving forward, if Nelson is able to produce like he did Sunday, it would help take some of the pressure off Jeremy Kerley and Stephen Hill and force opposing defenses to account for him. It's as much as the Jets could have hoped for when they signed him less than a month ago.
ICYMI: Ryan said it's not true that the Jets pushed on field goals, and said Patriots coach Bill Belichick needs to make up his mind regarding the penalty ... "Consistency" is the word for Geno Smith this week as he prepares for the Bengals. He has yet to win back-to-back games, and the Jets have done it once in their last 26 games ... Calvin Pace is fine with his decrease in snaps. He's playing approximately 78 percent of defensive snaps, down from 94 percent in 2012 ... Holmes and Jeff Cumberland did not practice. Quarterback David Garrard said running routes for his wife in preparation for flag football games let him know his knees were holding up well enough that he could give the NFL another shot.