What Winslow’s Release Means For Patriots
Tight end, Kellen Winslow, Jr. was released by the Patriots on Thursday just eight days after the team signed him to help fill the void at the crucial tight end position in New England, which was left vacant following an ankle injury to Aaron Hernandez in Week 2 against Arizona.
The team cited “personal reasons” as the reason for his release and also noted that they were granting a request to be released from the 8-year pro, who has also seen time with Cleveland, Tampa Bay and Seattle.
As for the Patriots on the field, this move will likely have a ripple effect and cause a few specific things to take place during Sunday’s game in Buffalo.
Without another big-play threat at tight end to compliment Rob Gronkowski, teams can now focus all of their tight end coverage on him. When Hernandez was in there, or another established tight end like Winslow, teams would have to account for them as well. I don’t think the Bills are going to be losing too much sleep over Daniel Fells or Michael Hoomanawanui.
Should the tight ends be taken out of New England’s offense – either by design or by force – they should turn to the run and use Gronkowski, as they have done before, as an important blocker. If Gronk’s targets on Sunday go down, I think there is an almost guaranteed chance that Stevan Ridley‘s carries (and yards) go up.
Also, Gronkowski was a new addition to the Patriot’s injury report on Friday. He was listed as questionable with a hip injury. This may put the Pats’ tight ends in an even bigger hole.
The release of a proven tight end might mean another thing too – something Patriots fans would be very glad to hear. Winslow’s release could potentially be a sign that the recovery process of Hernandez is going smoothly and that he might be back sooner than expected. Let’s hope.
Along with Gronkowski, Julian Edelman was also added to the injury report on Friday, but was already listed as out for Sunday afternoon’s tilt with the Bills.
So, what does this mean? No Hernandez, no Winslow, no Edelman. Well, it means that Wes Welker, after having what us Patriots fans would call a subpar first three games, it might just be a good time for his breakout game.
These injuries should force Bill Belichick to abandon Welker’s limited role (which may be contract-related) and use the speedy slot-machine all day on Sunday.
Finally, and this may have already been the case, but the offense might just continue to put up 30 points per game. Think about it. They did it last week against one of the greatest defenses of this generation and against one of the greatest defensive players ever in Ray Lewis. And they did it without Hernandez.
They might be able to survive only having one insanely good tight end at their disposal after all.
Follow me on Twitter @RealAndyLarmand.