Benjamin Watson is confident he can be an instant contributor for the New England Patriots.
"Yes, of course," the veteran tight end told reporters Thursday when asked if he can make an impact right away. "One thing about this place is they prepare the players to play. And so anybody who’s out there, no matter if you’ve been here the entire time or you’ve been here for a week, your job is to perform when called upon, so that’s what I expect to do.”
Watson was released the Monday after the Patriots' Week 5 win over the Washington Redskins. The 38-year-old tight end was suspended for the first four games of the regular season because of a failed drug test, and even though he was eligible to return for the Redskins matchup, he was not activated by the Saturday deadline for that game.
Watson was back with the Patriots eight days after his release, making his return to practice Tuesday as New England gets ready for its Week 7 road matchup against the New York Jets on "Monday Night Football."
"It feels good (to be back)," Watson said Thursday. "It was a nice windy day out there today, felt like home. It's been a whirlwind couple of weeks, I'm glad to be back, glad to be preparing for another opponent."
Did Watson think a return to New England was likely?
"I didn't know," Watson admitted. "Sometimes a guy gets released and he's back in a couple days. Sometimes that's it. At this point in my career, I know the end is close. You never know how it's going to end. When (I got released), obviously there was a lot of disappointment and sadness about it, obviously, going through everything I went through to have a chance to play. You understand this is part of it. You proceed as a family one day at a time. That's what we try to do."
Watson joins Ryan Izzo, Matt LaCosse and newly signed Eric Tomlinson as the tight ends on the Patriots roster. Izzo and LaCosse have not made much of an impact in the Patriots passing attack, combining for just 13 receptions, 169 receiving yards and one touchdown through six games. LaCosse is dealing with a knee injury and didn't practice Thursday.
The Patriots need much better production from their tight ends, and Watson's familiarity with quarterback Tom Brady and his 15 years of experience should help him make a successful transition back into the offense before the tough part of the team's schedule arrives.
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