Tom Nelson a versatile free safety from Illinois State is trying to catch on with the "thug life" Bengals. He has good speed 4.47 and is 5'11 200 or so pounds. As he attempts to make the transition from Illinois State to the NFL, Tom Nelson encountered another former Redbird last week at Cincinnati Bengals rookie camp. "We didn't get to talk much about ISU, but he made it clear he held me to higher standards since I'm from his alma mater," Nelson said of Cincinnati defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer. According to bengals.com, it was the first time in 16 years in the NFL that Zimmer has coached another ex-Redbird. Zimmer was a quarterback and linebacker at ISU in the mid 1970s. "I don't think he (Nelson) liked it too much. Every time he made a mistake, I told him he was a disgrace to my alma mater," Zimmer joked. "But he's a good kid. He moves well, he can return punts and he's got a decent concept of where to be." A free safety, Nelson was happy to take any ribbing from Zimmer. "I don't think it will come to anything as far as making the team, but it's cool to have that connection," said Nelson. "I'm glad he has high expectations for me. I have high expectations for myself." Nelson was mentioned as a free agent standout by Bengals' head coach Marvin Lewis after the rookie camp. "We put in six different coverages," Nelson said. "Basically, we jumped right in. When we weren't practicing, we were meeting or eating. It was basically football 24-7. It was good." Nelson will return on May 19 for the beginning of OTAs (organized team activities). "I'm not planning on being a starting safety, but maybe I can earn a backup position," said Nelson. "The coaches at ISU did a good job preparing me. I feel pretty confident in myself." Running back Walter Mendenhall, Nelson's teammate last season at ISU, attended a Philadelphia Eagles team camp as an undrafted free agent. "It was a good learning experience. They threw a lot at us," Mendenhall said. "The whole team was there. The first day I was kind of nervous. Guys I grew up watching, Donovan McNabb, guys like that (were there). It was a surreal experience. The second day was a lot easier." Mendenhall will report back for a rookie camp on May 17. "I've got to make the team through special teams. That's what I plan to do," said Mendenhall. "I plan on working hard, getting the plays down and showcasing what I can do."