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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Updated Patriots cornerback depth chart after Michael Jackson trade with Lions

Updated Patriots cornerback depth chart after Michael Jackson trade with Lions

The New England Patriots added even more depth to an elite group of cornerbacks Sunday by acquiring Michael Jackson in a trade with the Detroit Lions.

Jackson, who's listed at 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds, was a fifth-round draft pick by the Dallas Cowboys in 2019. The Detroit Lions signed him off the Cowboys practice squad last season and he played in one game for the NFC North team.

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Here's an updated look at the Patriots' cornerback depth chart with Jackson in the fold:

--Stephon Gilmore
--Jason McCourty
--J.C. Jackson
--Jonathan Jones
--Joejuan Williams
--Michael Jackson
--Myles Bryant
--D’Angelo Ross

It should be noted that Justin Bethel is listed at cornerback, but most of his snaps come on special teams. 

A strong case could be made that cornerback is the deepest position on the Patriots roster. The group is led by Stephon Gilmore, who became the first Patriot ever to win the AP's NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2019. Gilmore is the league's best cornerback and has earned first team All-Pro selections in back-to-back seasons. 

He's not the only talented cornerback in the Patriots secondary, though. 

J.C. Jackson excelled in coverage last season, too, especially on passes beyond 20 yards. In fact, Jackson had the lowest passer rating allowed when targeted of all cornerbacks in 2019, according to Pro Football Focus.

One of the most intriguing players in the Patriots secondary is second-year cornerback Joejuan Williams. He was a second-round pick out of Vanderbilt in 2019 but saw limited playing time as a rookie.

The depth of the Patriots defense has been hit hard in recent months due to free agent departures and veterans opting out of the 2020 season amid concerns over COVID-19. One position that has remained largely intact is cornerback, and barring any significant injuries, it could be the team's most productive position this coming season.

Patriots acquire CB Michael Jackson in trade with Lions

Patriots acquire CB Michael Jackson in trade with Lions

The New England Patriots have added another cornerback to their depth chart.

On Sunday, they announced they've acquired Michael Jackson from the Detroit Lions for an undisclosed 2022 draft pick.

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Jackson was selected in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft (158th overall) by the Dallas Cowboys out of Miami. He started his rookie season on Dallas' practice squad before being signed by Detroit.

The 23-year-old played in only one game last season for the Lions.

Jackson joins a Patriots cornerback group that currently consists of Stephon Gilmore, Jonathan Jones, Joejuan Williams, Jason McCourty, J.C. Jackson, D'Angelo Ross, Justin Bethel, and Myles Bryant.