Patriots

Patriots tight end Benjamin Watson confident he can make an impact right away

Patriots tight end Benjamin Watson confident he can make an impact right away

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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Jerry Jones reveals interesting exchange with Bill Belichick at ski resort in 1990s

Jerry Jones reveals interesting exchange with Bill Belichick at ski resort in 1990s

The Dallas Cowboys will make a rare visit to Gillette Stadium on Sunday for a Week 12 matchup against the New England Patriots.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones went on Dallas radio station 105.3 The Fan on Tuesday and told an interesting story about an exchange he had with Patriots head coach Bill Belichick in the 1990s.

"I'll never forget, I was skiing after our season was over," Jones said. "I was renting skis for my grandkids, and there was a line. I'm sitting in the back and somebody bumps up against me a few times. I turned around and it was this guy, I couldn't (make out who he was) because he had his ski stuff on and goggles. It was Bill.

"He no longer had a job. He had been with Cleveland and they'd let him go up there. He said, 'Listen, I can coach. If you ever get an opportunity, don't forget about me.' I've thought about that many times. You never know when you can find a great coach. You can find him in a ski checkout line sometimes."

When Barry Switzer resigned as Cowboys head coach after a 6-10 season in 1997, Jones and the Cowboys hired Chan Gailey as the team's new head coach. Gailey is one of five head coaches Dallas has employed since Belichick was fired after the 1995 season.

The Cowboys have reached the playoffs nine times in the last 21 seasons, and that span includes zero trips to the NFC Championship Game or beyond.

The Patriots traded for Belichick in a deal with the New York Jets to be their next head coach beginning with the 2000 season, and he has won nine conference championships and six Super Bowl titles in 20 seasons at the helm. Belichick might win another championship in 2019, as his Patriots currently sit atop the AFC standings with a 9-1 record entering Sunday's game versus the Cowboys.

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NFL Power Rankings: Have Ravens jumped over Patriots in AFC?

NFL Power Rankings: Have Ravens jumped over Patriots in AFC?

Despite their litany of offensive issues, the Patriots have been holding firm atop Tom E. Curran's AFC Power Rankings this season.

But New England doesn't have much margin for error in the AFC playoff race. 

The Patriots lost to the Ravens in Week 9, so Baltimore owns the tiebreaker edge. Lamar Jackson and Co. are also in the midst of an NFL-high six-game win streak, including wins over three teams in playoff position (Seattle, New England, Houston), and a +87 point differential over the last three weeks.

So despite the Ravens trailing the Patriots by one game in the race for the AFC's top seed, does that mean they've supplanted New Engand as the AFC's best?

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