FOXBOROUGH — The Patriots released tight end Ben Watson, the team announced Monday afternoon.
Watson, who missed New England’s first four games this season because of a suspension for performance-enhancing drugs, was in the locker room Monday but declined to speak to reporters. He later posted a statement on Twitter, expressing his disappointment in the outcome.
“The God of victory is also God in failure,” Watson tweeted. “I gave my all, but it was not enough to earn a spot on the Patriots roster. I’m beyond disappointed but even more upset for my family who has supported me with all the love a husband and father could ask for. They are my heroes.”
The God of victory is also God in failure. I gave my all, but it was not enough to earn a spot on the @Patriots roster. I’m beyond disappointed but even more upset for my family who has supported me with all the love a husband and father could ask for.They are my heroes. Rom 8:28— Benjamin Watson (@BenjaminSWatson) October 7, 2019
By releasing Watson, New England created just over $2 million in cap space.
Coach Bill Belichickacknowledged the move during his weekly radio appearance on WEEI.
“Just don’t have a roster spot,” Belichick said. “We only have so many roster spots. If we put somebody on, we have to take somebody off. Right now, there wasn’t a roster spot. We didn’t feel like there was somebody we could create a roster spot with.”
Watson, 38, had a weeklong roster exemption following his suspension and he did not count against the 53-man limit. He could have been activated last week for Sunday’s game at Washington, but he did not make the trip to Landover, Md. The Patriots had until 4 p.m. Monday to activate him.
Cornerback Jason McCourty, who worked out with Watson during the break between OTAs and training camp, called his former teammate “a really good dude.”
“Ben is overall a great person to be around, football aside,” McCourty said. “He’s a guy who’s strong in his faith, mature, a father of seven, so [there’s] a lot to learn from him in that standpoint.”
Watson, who spent the first six years of his career with the Patriots, had been headed for retirement after last season but altered his plans to return to New England.
With Watson’s departure, the Patriots’ depth chart at tight end features only Matt LaCosse and Ryan Izzo.
Air traffic control
Giants coach Pat Shurmur is well aware of the formidable opposition the Patriots defense will present Thursday night.
“They’re pretty stifling,” Shurmur said on a conference call Monday evening. “They don’t give up many points. They’re sturdy against the run. They’re hard to throw against. It’s going to be a challenge for us, certainly.”
No team has scored more than 14 points against New England this season. Through five games, the Patriots have limited opponents to a league-best 238.4 yards per game and opposing quarterbacks to a league-low 160.4 passing yards per game.
The Giants will look for rookie Daniel Jones to generate offense in just his fourth NFL start. Replacing 38-year-old Eli Manning as the starter in Week 3, Jones is averaging 247.6 passing yards per game. In three games, he’s thrown four touchdowns as well as three interceptions, and has been sacked nine times.
“Daniel Jones is a guy who has some escapability,” said McCourty, who picked off Colt McCoy Sunday for his first interception of the season.
“He can get outside the pocket. He’s brought some spunk to the offense. He doesn’t get rattled. He’s standing in there, taking hits and still making throws down the field.”
Shurmur said the keys for Jones will be his decision-making and accuracy.
“You certainly don’t want to be back there holding on to [the ball],” he said.
Jones may be without two of the team’s most talented offensive weapons. Wide receiver Sterling Shepard (concussion) would not have participated in practice and running back Saquon Barkley would have been limited, according to the projected injury report. Barkley has missed the team’s past three games with a high ankle sprain.
Shurmur wouldn’t tip his hand about the 22-year-old rusher’s status.
“We’ll just have to wait and see,” he said. “He’s making good progress.”
Tight end Evan Engram (knee) and running back Wayne Gallman (concussion) also would not have practiced Monday. Engram leads the Giants in catches (33) and receiving yards (373).
The Patriots also did not practice Monday. If they had, wide receiver Phillip Dorsett would have been sidelined with the hamstring injury he suffered in the first quarter Sunday.
Rex Burkhead (foot), Patrick Chung (heel), Nate Ebner (groin), Julian Edelman (chest), and Josh Gordon (knee) all would have been limited in practice, according to the projected injury report. Burkhead, Chung, and Ebner were inactive against the Redskins.