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Friday, August 30, 2013
Observation deck: Browns-Bears

By Scott Powers

CHICAGO -- Cleveland Browns wide receiver David Nelson had a vision for what his first game back would be on Thursday.

Nelson, who hadn’t played in a game since tearing the ACL in his right knee in the 2012 season opener, held two assumptions about his return. First, he thought he would get really emotional prior to Thursday’s preseason game with the Chicago Bears because of how much he had gone through to return to the field. Second, he expected his performance would again meet his high standards.

Neither went according to plan.

Nelson did make his season debut and caught a team-high four passes for 54 yards, but he wasn’t overcome with emotion and he wasn’t pleased with how he played.

“[The game wasn’t as emotional] as I thought it would be,” said Nelson, who had 61 receptions for 658 yards and five touchdowns for Buffalo in 2011. “There was a time before the national anthem and before the game started I got emotional. Once we stepped on the field, it was just playing football again.

“It was a special moment [being back]. It really was. Obviously, today wasn’t the way I wanted. I think I’m my harshest critic. I just didn’t play the way I wanted to. It wasn’t because of the knee. I wasn’t out there slipping because of the knee. It just didn’t go the way I wanted to.”

Nelson first got involved in the Browns’ offense in the second quarter. He missed his first opportunity at a catch when he wasn’t looking as Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer threw him the ball. But five plays later, Hoyer went back to Nelson, and Nelson hauled in a 4-yard reception.

Nelson was targeted 10 times, and his longest reception was for 21 yards. He reported no pain in his knee, but he did suffer leg cramps late in the game.

Browns coach Rob Chudzinski understood Nelson wasn’t satisfied with his day, but he believed it was a positive starting point.

“I thought it was great he got back out there,” Chudzinski said. “You know what? I know there’s a few plays he’d like to have back. Playing in a NFL game, you get tired, and he was tired by the end. Those guys got a lot of reps. We had limited guys to begin with. It was really good to see him. He made a couple plays. Those are the kind of experiences you can build on.”

In other notes from the Browns' 18-16 victory: