When the Jets invited tight end Kellen Winslow for an extended audition during an off-season mini-camp they knew he still had talent, but they didn’t know if the veterans worn down knees would enable him to unleash it — an all too familiar tale in today’s NFL; a supreme talent torn down by injury.
When he entered the league in 2004, after a hugely successful college career at the University of Miami, everyone expected Winslow Jr. to follow in his father’s footsteps and have a hall of fame career. However, despite a string of successful seasons Winslow couldn’t escape the chronic pain in his surgically repaired right knee. While the pain didn’t prevent him from being on the field, the injury scared most NFL teams away, and in one way or another the injury led to the veteran being out of football in 2012.
But by giving Winslow a chance to resurrect his career, the New York Jets might have found the perfect player to help their rookie quarterback adjust to life in the NFL.
“He can be a safety valve for me,” Geno Smith said when asked about Winslow. “He communicates well. He’s extremely smart, he knows defenses. He’s just a wily vet. It’s good to have a guy like that on your side.”
Smith has clearly built up a rapport with Winslow; he targeted the veteran eight times, and Winslow hauled in seven of them for a total of 79 yards and a touchdown. The pair also connected ona 25 yard “sandlot” play drawn up in the sand with the game on the line. At that point it was obvious that Smith had found his go-to-guy, and Kellen Winslow Jnr was back!
“I really haven’t done anything yet,” Winslow said after his first outing with the Jets. “It’s one game, and I have a long way to go.”
If Winslow sticks true to his pre-season prediction of 100 catches, the journey will include at least 93 more receptions. And although It’s only been one game, Winslow has already proved himself to be indispensable to both the Jets and Geno Smith.