The Bills' rough offseason got even worse Friday as the NFL suspended starting tight end Shawn Nelson without pay for the first four games of the 2010 season for violating the league's substance-abuse policy.
Nelson had 17 catches for 156 yards and a touchdown in his rookie season in 2009 and showed promise to assume a larger role in the Bills' passing game in 2010.
TE Derek Schouman hurt his knee in Thursday night's preseason victory over the Colts in Toronto and the Bills don't know how much time he will miss. Despite Nelson's athletic promise, he was battling for the starting spot with Jonathan Stupar, a second-year player out of Virginia who had two starts in '09, and veteran TE Michael Matthews.
The Bills already lost RBs Fred Jackson (hand) and Marshawn Lynch (ankle) for the rest of preseason, and starting FS Jairus Byrd is out indefinitely after groin surgery.
Nelson will be eligible to return to the active roster on Monday, Oct. 4 after Buffalo's Week Four game against the Jets. He can still participate in all preseason practices and games.