For the past four seasons, tight end Dustin Keller served as the go-to guy for Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez. But since Keller went to Miami as a free agent, the signing of free agent Kellen Winslow II might even turn out to be an upgrade.
Keller’s career-high for catches was 65 while Winslow averaged 72 catches in his six full seasons with Cleveland and Tampa Bay. Winslow was released in training camp by Seattle last season and then played only one game with New England before asking for his release.
Despite speculation about the condition of his surgically repaired right knee, Winslow said he’s in good condition and ready for training camp when he spoke to reporters on Friday at the “Jets West” passing camp run by quarterback Mark Sanchez.
“I feel the same every year,’ Winslow said. “Nothing has really changed. It’s all about maintaining and getting my legs strong. I feel good. This is a great opportunity for me. I’m happy to be a part of it.”
In his final season with Tampa Bay in 2011, Winslow led the Bucs for the third straight season with 75 catches for 763 yards and two TDs. Asked if he can get back to that level, Winslow he can do that and more.
“Of course, yeah,” Winslow said. “I average around 72. My job is just to make plays when it comes my way. I can exceed that. My goal is always to catch 100 balls. I haven’t done it yet, but that’s my goal and I want to come close.”
Winslow joined the Jets in June barely in time for veterans’ minicamp. He enjoyed “Jets West” because it afforded him an opportunity to catch up with the West Coast offense installed by coordinator Marty Morninwheg. Winslow said his right knee is in good shape after multiple surgeries but acknowledged he expects to be on a modified schedule in training camp to preserve him for the regular season.
Winslow praised the leadership demonstrated by Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez during the “Jets West” passing camp he sponsors, but Winslow demurred when asked if that kind of strong presence is what the Jets need to see from Sanchez.
“I’m just coming in trying to be piece of the puzzle and make plays for the team,” Winslow said. “I’m not judging anybody. I’m lucky to have a job, I’m just happy to be back.”