Tom Brady and Benjamin Waston have known each other for a long time. Yet, it’s been ten years since the two have played for the same team. Based on the looks of today’s joint practices with the Titans, the two are starting to pick up where they left off.
During 11-on-11’s in Nashville, Waston lined up on the right side and ran over the middle of the field past a linebacker. Brady hit the tight end in stride, and Watson kept on going. The 38-year-old found the end zone grinning from ear to ear. It was just one play, but you could see flashes of the tight end/quarterback duo from the mid 2000’s. Though there is familiarity between Brady and Watson, this season has been an adjustment.
“It's different,” Watson said of reuniting with Brady. “I mean, we're in two totally different points in our careers. This is a new team for me, same organization but a new team, a new system. I’m trying to create my own role.”
There certainly is a role for Watson, or really any tight end on this Patriots roster, to create. Matt LaCosse has yet to practice this week after sustaining an injury during the first preseason game in Detroit. Stephen Anderson was not spotted on the practice field at today’s practice. The tight end position needs help, and while Watson is new to this particular New England offense, given the importance of chemistry between quarterback and receiver, Watson could have an advantage when it comes to Brady.
“The chemistry between a quarterback and receiver, a quarterback and a tight end, is so important because it's all anticipation,” Brady said today after practice. “I have, obviously, a lot of experience, so I know where guys should be, so I'm trying to tell them, ‘If you want the ball, this is where you've got to be,’ which is hopefully good learning for those guys, and it's good teaching for me.”
Like Brady, Watson has plenty of experience. He knows firsthand how precise Brady’s expectations are. Plus, the attention to detail in New England is what ultimately convinced Watson to sign with the Patriots after he considered retiring at the end of the 2018 season.
“There's always this really high level of expectation and also a high standard of excellence, accountability,” Watson said of being back with the Patriots. “The structure, the commitment to excellence, the intense coaching that we get. No matter how good something is, there's always things we can get better at. That's what you're going to get when you come here.”
Though the 2019 Watson won’t be the same as his younger self, who began his NFL career in New England, the veteran is still looking for a way to contribute. Watson will miss the first four games of the regular season due to a suspension but is eligible to play during the preseason. As the Patriots search for answers at tight end, keep an eye on Watson on Saturday night in Nashville.