Injured WR Nelson ready to play for Browns

CLEVELAND – One Browns player who’s excited about the final preseason game is receiver David Nelson.

Nelson hasn’t played in a game since the 2012 season opener for the Buffalo Bills. He tore knee ligaments that day and missed the remainder of the season.

Signed by the Browns during the offseason, Nelson was hoping to return to practice early in training camp. A minor knee injury put him back on the sideline, but he was back last week and is expected to play Thursday against the Chicago Bears.

“You can’t put a value on how it is,” Nelson said of getting game time. “You practice as hard as you can, but it’s still considered a controlled environment. They’re not hitting full speed. You go out there and react like you do in a NFL game and are able to adjust to the speed of the game. Get that feel again and get back into the groove and feel smooth about it.”

It’s been a difficult time for Nelson because the injuries weren’t related.

“It’s been a crazy ride,” Nelson said. “It’s been the most frustrating, disappointing hardest year of my life. It’s one of those things where I have to continue to push. I’ve made it this far. I’m excited about the opportunity this weekend.”

ROSTER MOVES: Rosters have to be reduced to 75 by 4 p.m. today. As of Monday afternoon the Browns had cut ties with receiver Jordan Norwood, defensive end David Kruger, defensive end Vernon Kearney and linebacker Tommy Smith.

Norwood’s release was somewhat surprising, but he’s always injured. His release could pave the way to a roster spot for Josh Cooper, who had a good training camp.

INJURY REPORT: Working out separate from practice were tight end Jordan Cameron, safety Jamoris Slaughter, defensive end Desmond Bryant, cornerback Chris Owens, kicker Brandon Bogotay and receiver Naaman Roosevelt.

Linebacker Barkevious Mingo (lung) watched practice. There’s still no timetable on a possible return date for Mingo, who suffered a contusion in the second preseason game.

HARD TO EXPLAIN: Quarterback Brandon Weeden had numerous passes deflected near the line of scrimmage last season. One of the goals of offensive coordinator Norv Turner has been to reduce the number of deflections. So far, mission accomplished.

“I’ve talked to so many quarterbacks and I can’t find a good reason why so many balls are batted at the line of scrimmage,” Weeden said. “I think being under center there’s going to be more. We’ve been in the shotgun more than we had been at this point last year.

“Just finding those throwing lanes. I don’t know. I can give you things I think but I have no idea why. It’s been good. Hopefully we keep it that way.”

ROSTER BATTLES: The more time Owens misses, the more concerned coach Rob Chudzinski has to be about right cornerback. Owens was brought in to start opposite Joe Haden, but he’s missed considerable time. He vows to be ready for the opener against the Miami Dolphins, although that could become a sticky issue.

Chudzinski would prefer to put Buster Skrine inside on the slot receiver and start Owens outside. Rookie Leon McFadden could then be eased into action.

NO SURPRISE: Running back Dion Lewis has been placed on season-ending injured reserve. Lewis fractured a fibula against the Detroit Lions.