New Raiders safety Reggie Nelson wasn’t able to participate in practices the entire offseason because of an ankle injury he suffered with the Bengals in a playoff game.
That makes Nelson one very eager football player now that he’s fully healthy.
Coming off a Pro Bowl season with the Bengals and joining a new team for his 10th NFL season, Nelson said this week at the team’s Napa training facility that he’s “excited to be here and get back to playing football.”
Nelson is expected to form one half of a new safety tandem in 2016. He’ll take over for the retired Charles Woodson at free safety, with No. 1 draft pick Karl Joseph projected to earn the job at strong safety. Joseph, too, missed all of the offseason workout program because of a knee injury, but is set to go.
Nelson told Raiders.com this week that the chance to sign with Oakland was an easy choice.
“They’re up and coming,” he said. “I like their defense. They’re young, and it was a no-brainer. I just wanted to be a part of something special and you know Raider Nation is crazy, so I just wanted to be a part of that fan base.”
Nelson and Joseph will form half of what could be a much-improved secondary, with cornerbacks Sean Smith and David Amerson.
Amerson told Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com that he can’t wait to get to work with his new teammates, including Nelson.
“I know I’m definitely excited to get out there and work with those guys, move around with them on the field and just get familiar with them playing with them on the field,” he said.
Signing with the Raiders reunites Nelson with his former head coach in Jacksonville, Jack Del Rio.
“Coach Jack is always preaching ‘sharpen your tools and get in your playbook’ and everything else will come,” Nelson said. Even though Nelson hasn’t been able to participate in on-field activities since signing with the Raiders earlier this year, he’s immersed himself in study and is ready to roll. He’s eager to get on the field.
“It’s all about you getting better and getting the chemistry down pat with all of the teammates and stuff,” he said.