FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — New England Patriots tight end Ben Watson stood by his locker Thursday night, candidly answering every question about his future with the organization, however long that future may be.
Watson?s sixth year with the Patriots has been his most unstable, and with roster cuts looming Saturday afternoon, these could be his final hours with the team that selected him in the first round of the 2004 draft.
?I would say I?m waiting to see what?s going to happen,? Watson said when asked if he was confident heading into Saturday, when all NFL rosters must be trimmed to 53 players. ?It?s not concern. It?s probably a little bit of uncertainty that I kind of carry in every year. Obviously, this year is a little bit different with injuries and stuff like that, but you just wait and see what is going to happen. Whatever works out, works out.?
It?s definitely premature to presume Watson?s fate, but it was telling to see him on the field for the majority of the Patriots? final preseason game, when most of the team?s primary players were spectators. Watson finished the game with one reception for nine yards.
The Patriots had four tight ends on the roster heading into Thursday?s game against the New York Giants, and Chris Baker and David Thomas positioned themselves as locks to make the team. Watson and Alex Smith, who came along very slowly throughout training camp, appeared to be vying for the last spot.
?I?ve never gone through that situation before, so that?s foreign territory to me,? Smith said about being on the bubble. ?It?s out of my control. All I can only control is what I do on the field, so I feel that, as long I as I continue to progress, I can compete for a spot.?
While it was a widespread belief that the Patriots would carry all four tight ends into the regular season, there didn?t seem to be enough production from the group to warrant that decision.
Plus, Watson suffered an undisclosed injury early in training camp, which kept him out of a chunk of practices and two preseason games. He even admitted a couple of weeks ago that he was behind physically because of his absences.
?I?m not happy that I missed a lot with the injury and stuff,? Watson said. That?s something that I couldn?t control, something that happened, so I?m definitely not happy with that from a rep standpoint. But things like that happen and you learn how to roll with the punches. You learn that stuff is going to happen.?
Because of his draft status and freakish physical ability, Watson has the highest profile of any Patriot on the roster bubble. To his credit, he always answers every question about his standing, and he never makes excuses for himself. And if he gets released, it?s as certain as death and taxes that he?ll sign with another organization early next week, if he doesn?t get claimed off waivers first.
?In your career, there are ups and downs, and it just matters that you fight back from them,? Watson said. ?I would have rather have been here through all the [preseason] games. I would have changed that, but that?s part of what makes you who you are.?