The New England Patriots will get a boost ahead of Week 5 with the return of tight end Benjamin Watson.
The 38-year-old veteran was suspended for the first four games of the regular season because of a failed drug test, but he's eligible to play Sunday when the Patriots play the winless Washington Redskins on the road.
Watson signed a one-year contract with the Patriots in the offseason, and his addition is a welcomed one. Patriots tight ends Ryan Izzo and Matt LaCosse have combined to tally just four receptions for 77 yards and zero touchdowns on five targets through four games. It's been a long time since the Patriots received so little from tight ends in their passing attack.
What can Watson provide the Patriots? Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels explained Tuesday in a conference call with reporters.
"Ben is a versatile guy," McDaniels said. "He's a smart guy. He certainly has made a lot of plays in his career. He gives us an element of speed and experience at the tight end position. He's been a productive guy, made plays under pressure. Ben coming back here, it's great to have him back. Hopefully we'll be able to move forward with him in a role that suits his skill set and our team."
Watson doesn't need to come in and be Rob Gronkowski's replacement -- no one player will replace the future Hall of Fame tight end.
He just needs to give the Patriots a legitimate receiving threat at tight end, and he's capable of providing that. Watson tallied 35 receptions for 400 yards and two touchdowns with the New Orleans Saints last season, and he already has six seasons of experience catching passes from Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (2004 through 2009).
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