Fourth-round pick Shawn Nelson did not make it to St. John Fisher in time for the first practice Saturday morning, but got on the field for the afternoon session after signing his contract with the Bills.
"It feels great," said Nelson following his first practice. "I'm just excited to be out here and ready to work. I'm doing what I should and I will work hard like my father did, so I'm excited about being out here. We have the hard part out of the way, so now it's time to go to work."
Nelson did not see many reps in his first practice. He was used sparingly with the third team offense and blocked on a couple of run plays. But Nelson expects that to change.
"I actually got in today and finished all the paperwork, so they took it a little light with me (Saturday), but it's good to be back," he said. "And (Sunday) I'll get back into the role where you do a little bit more. You'll see a lot more of me running plays, catching balls and blocking a little bit more."
Eventually the Southern Miss product is expected to be a factor in the passing game as a rookie with 4.52 speed and a receiving background. Buffalo's coaching staff has made a point of focusing Nelson's efforts on route running, as he even spent some time with the receiving corps rather than his fellow tight ends during OTAs in the spring.
"He's extremely talented and can run, run, run," said tight ends coach Charlie Coiner. "I've been impressed with his toughness. When you put him next to the tackle, he's determined to block. He's learning and has a great attitude and just has to stay after that."
The rookie missed a week of practices in the spring due to personal reasons, but is working hard to assimilate to Buffalo's offensive scheme after playing in the spread in college.
The Bills are still negotiating with their top four draft choices in Aaron Maybin and Eric Wood and Jairus Byrd and Andy Levitre.