Nelson, who had surgery on his knee on Aug. 5, said, "You never know" when asked if he'd be ready for the Week 1 game against San Francisco. When asked why he didn't have surgery earlier – according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, who broke the news on Aug. 6, the injury had bothered Nelson dating to his career at Kansas State, Nelson said, "You wouldn't want to take all camp off?"
Turning serious, Nelson said the target remains the opener against the 49ers, and he gave no indication that he'd play in the preseason finale against Kansas City on Aug. 29. That could put Nelson in position that he'd have one week of practice time to get ready for the regular season, though he'd like to get back on the practice field sooner.
As a sixth-year pro, Nelson clearly would be capable of performing without much practice time. His role is a critical one with such uncertain receiver depth behind himself, Randall Cobb and James Jones.
"Mentally, yes, but you want to get out there as soon as possible and try to get as much done as possible," he said. "We want to get out as soon as possible. There's things you can do in the training room to hopefully get your wind back. Football is football and you need to play games to really be in shape."
As for the Schefter report that the injury had been bothering him for years, Nelson called that "a little over the top."
"It's happened in college and it went away," Nelson continued. "I have not been playing for it with the last six years. You guys know you can't believe everything you hear on TV. You want to avoid surgery as much as possible and that's what we tried to do."
Nelson said the injury would have prevented him from playing at full speed during the season, so he and the team took a big-picture view of the situation and decided to get it done early in camp.
"It was something I would have been able to play through if it happened in-season or something," Nelson said, "but there was enough time that we kind of took the chance that if everything went smooth we could get in and out during training camp and hopefully have a healthy 16-game season."