A quick call to Tim Tebow was all Jets wide receiver David Nelson needed to know he was set to make the right choice about his new team.
Prior to their Week 5 Monday night game at the Falcons and with injuries decimating their receiving corps, the Jets brought in free agent wide receiver David Nelson for a workout. Nelson had spent the previous three years of his NFL career with the Bills. After being cut by Cleveland in preseason due to a knee injury, Nelson was a proven wide receiver without a team and an ideal fit for the Jets.
The Jets brought him in for a workout and he impressed. That night from the hotel across from the team’s facility, Nelson reached out to his former Florida teammate who had played for the Jets last year. What Tebow said, despite a tumultuous 2012 season with the Jets, would surprise many people.
The Jets traded for Tebow in the spring of 2012, only to barely use him and unceremoniously cut the quarterback after the 2013 NFL Draft.
“He had tremendous respect for the organization. Obviously the playing time situation, everyone wants to play, but this organization treats its players first class, and that’s what I was curious about,” Nelson told Metro. “They take care of their players. Obviously the playing time and the schematic things [with him], that’s more about the coaches and the situation and the players. When I called him, it was more of an organization, more a locker room demeanor and presence. It was clear that he liked what the organization was about and how they treated the players.”
Despite the frustration over his playing time, Tebow told Nelson “nothing but good things” about the organization.
Tebow and Nelson were college teammates at Florida from 2006 to 2009.
“Here I was, jumping into the locker room. I wanted to know about the guys, the situation,” Nelson said. “Playing in Buffalo, all I saw is what I saw on TV— what [head coach] Rex [Ryan] said, how the players play [and] ‘Hard Knocks’ four years ago. I was asking him about a different perspective from what I saw.
“He told me that guys really play for each other. They don’t bring guys in just for talent, they bring them in for the culture of the locker room. That’s one thing that stuck out from the call, one thing he really admired about the organization. They don’t just do an assessment of the player, they see how he fits in the organization as a whole.”
In a private conversation with a former college teammate, it would have been easy for Tebow to rail against his old team, a team that has been credited with essentially killing his career after three up and down years in the NFL.
Instead, Tebow’s assessment of the team helped lead Nelson to sign with the Jets and feel comfortable about his decision.
“He really enjoyed his time here. I think that’s been documented. The playing time situation and how he fit in the offense, that’s for other people to speculate on,” Nelson said. “When I went to his gala for his foundation in Orlando, [Fla.] there were four or five guys from the Jets there. I think that says something about him. But he didn’t have anything bad to say to me about the team or the people here.”
Jets notes …
» Cornerback Ellis Lankster did not practice Friday as he continues to struggle with an injury suffered two weeks ago to his right jaw. Ryan said Lankster can’t put a helmet on yet.
In addition, fellow cornerback Antonio Cromartie was limited in practice on Friday.
» Ryan has been toned down this year, which has led to speculation he has modified his demeanor to appeal to first-year general manager John Idzik. Not so, says Ryan.
“No, I don’t think so,” Ryan said. “I’m just myself; that’s easy.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.