Sources: Nelson struggled with football terminology

Updated: May 15, 2006, 8:37 PM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

Ed Nelson, the former Connecticut basketball power forward attempting to make the transition to NFL tight end, is going to have to find another franchise willing to give him a chance to chase his dream.

Nelson was released Monday by the St. Louis Rams, who had signed him to a two-year contract as a free agent immediately after last month's draft concluded. Nelson had participated in the team's rookie mini-camp over the weekend.

Sources said that, while Nelson's raw physical skills might enable him to some day play in the NFL, he struggled at times to assimilate football terminology.

A few other teams inquired about Nelson after the draft, so there is a chance that one will offer him at least a tryout. Nelson will take some time to see if other teams indicate an interest in him before determining the direction of his future.

Another former basketball standout, Jai Lewis of George Mason, signed with the New York Giants as an undrafted free agent. Lewis worked with the Giants during their rookie mini-camp over the weekend, practicing as an offensive lineman and deep snapper.

Recently featured in an "Outside the Lines" segment, Nelson was regarded as a longshot to make the roster. Clearly, the fact he had not played football since junior high worked against him. His goal was to demonstrate enough progress in some team's training camp to earn a spot on the practice squad and buy himself time to further develop his fledgling football skills.

"I'm just trying to keep my expectations realistic," Nelson said after the draft. "If I can just get a year of football under my belt, I can be a pretty good player."

St. Louis selected two highly regarded tight ends in the draft -- Joe Klopfenstein of Colorado in the second round and Southern California's Dominique Byrd in the third. Their crowded depth chart also includes four other young tight end candidates.

In a workout for representatives from 14 franchises a week before the draft, Nelson demonstrated raw but burgeoning skills. He posted a 34-inch vertical jump, was timed at 4.95-5.04 seconds in the 40-yard dash and dropped just one pass in receiving drills. He also showed a willingness to block.

The workout indicated his receiving skills are certainly ahead of his blocking abilities right now. But Nelson was a physical player on the basketball court who doesn't shy away from contact, and the Rams are intrigued by Nelson's potential.

Now Nelson will need another team to be just as intrigued.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click here Insider.