|Watson benefits from Moss, other WRs|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 01 October 2007 11:19|
It also helps him when opponents must watch Moss more than any other New England receiver.
Moss caught five touchdown passes in the Patriots first three games, the latest coming on a spectacular 45-yard grab in a 38-7 rout of the Buffalo Bills. Watson also had a scoring reception in each of those games before Monday night's matchup with the Bengals in Cincinnati.
``I don't know if I'm catching better,'' Watson said, ``but as an offense, everybody is making everybody else better.''
In the first three games, all New England victories, Moss had 22 catches and Wes Welker pulled in 20. Donte' Stallworth only had four but has the speed and potential for many more.
``I've definitely benefited from being able to watch guys like Donte' and Wes and Randy,'' said Watson, who had nine catches for 75 yards and has been more sure-handed than in past seasons.
Watson, a first-round draft pick from Georgia in 2004, had career highs of 49 catches for 643 yards last season but only three touchdowns, a total he's already reached. He moved up to the first-string job this year when Daniel Graham, primarily a blocker, signed as a free agent with the Denver Broncos.
The Patriots signed Kyle Brady as their blocking tight end and he's been impressed with Watson's all-around game.
``He's a terrifically talented player. He's unusually gifted,'' Brady said. ``I was impressed right from the start (with his blocking).''
Watson has helped keep defenders off quarterback Tom Brady and cleared a path for running back Laurence Maroney. He's also gotten free by himself for touchdowns.
His 5-yard catch against the New York Jets broke a 7-7 tie, and his 7-yard grab began the scoring against San Diego. New England won both games 38-14. Then his 8-yard reception against Buffalo wiped out a 7-3 deficit.
The Bills ``kind of played a zone coverage,'' Watson said. ``There was a soft spot right there. I think a lot of people were probably open on that play. I was fortunate enough to get the ball.''
Coach Bill Belichick gives him more credit than that.
Watson has improved from one year to the next as much as any player can, excluding a rookie going into his second season, Belichick said.
``His route running, his decision making, his handling of balls, confidence catching it, his adjustments in the passing game, have really been good,'' Belichick said. ``He's had several of those plays where he's been able to do that, make adjustments.''
Watson has had plenty of opportunities.
He was on the field for 153 snaps in the first three games, the most by any offensive player. The Patriots also used multiple tight end formations on more than half their plays in that stretch.
``Tight ends have always been a part of this offense as long as I've been here,'' Watson said. ``We've got some good players on the outside. We're definitely going to have the receivers involved, but it's always good to have a tight end in there, especially when you play tight end.''
Watson's progress has been gradual.
As a rookie, he caught two passes in one game then missed the rest of the season with an injury. The next season he started nine of his 15 games and caught 29 passes for 441 yards and four touchdowns.
Now in his fourth season and without Graham, the pressure to produce is greater.
``He's a guy who's talented enough that he can handle that,'' Kyle Brady said. ``Typically, for guys involved in the receiving game, the more balls you get, the more your confidence builds.''
Especially if those balls wind up in Watson's hands in the end zone.
``The tight end's role has really been pretty consistent,'' Belichick said. ``In terms of getting the ball and where the ball goes depends, to a certain degree, on how people are playing you defensively.''
It also depends on how they're playing Moss and the rest of the wide receivers.