Benjamin Watson will not make his re-debut with the New England Patriots this week.
As the Patriots prepare for a Week 5 matchup against the Washington Redskins on Sunday, the veteran tight end will not travel with the team to Washington. That means that his season debut will be delayed another week despite the fact that his four-game suspension is over.
More importantly, if the Patriots don’t lift his exemption by Monday, he could be released.
Patriots Have No Threats at Tight End
Watson had been suspended by the league for the first four games of the season due to failing a test for a testosterone supplement banned by the league. The 38-year-old tight end had initially decided at the end of the 2018 season that he would retire before making the decision to return to the Patriots in May.
The 14-year veteran entered the season as the projected starting tight end following the retirement of Rob Gronkowski. New England’s tight ends have vastly struggled as Ryan Izzo and Matt LaCosse have combined for four catches for 77 yards on the year.
Considering New England’s wide receivers are banged up and the fact that Tom Brady had one of the worst games of his career during Week 4’s 16-10 victory over the Buffalo Bills, it would be an absolute shock if the Patriots were to move on from Watson without giving him a chance at returning.
The veteran tight end was originally drafted by the Patriots with a first-round pick in the 2004 Draft and spent six seasons with the franchise before leaving and playing three seasons with the Cleveland Browns. He is also known for his two stints with the New Orleans Saints and his short tenure with the Baltimore Ravens.
Watson had 167 catches for 2,102 yards and 20 touchdowns during his original stint with the Patriots and has 530 receptions for 5,885 yards and 46 touchdowns to his name for his career. Most importantly, he has appeared in 12 postseason games with nine starts — nine of them with the Patriots. That is a trait that will come in handy when January rolls around.
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Patriots Declare Patrick Chung and Rex Burkhead Out for Week 5
The Patriots will be even more short-handed as they’ll deal with the absences of Patrick Chung, Rex Burkhead and Nate Ebner. New England officially ruled them out for their tilt against the Redskins in Week 5.
Chung had been dealing with a heel injury, Burkhead was dealing with a foot ailment and Ebner remains out due to a groin injury.
All three players had been limited participants in Friday’s practice, but Bill Belichick has made the decision to sit all three players out for Sunday’s game against a winless opponent in the Redskins.
Meanwhile, as I mentioned earlier, the Patriots’ wide receiving corps is pretty banged up. Both Josh Gordon (knee) and Julian Edelman (chest) practiced with injuries during the week. However, Gordon was a full participant on Friday and will play on Sunday. In the case of Edelman, he remains questionable due to the chest injury.