Winslow: Browns 'can't guard me'

Updated: December 19, 2013, 7:43 PM ET
By Jane McManus | ESPNNewYork.com

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- As Kellen Winslow Jr. gets ready to face his old team, the Cleveland Browns, the New York Jets tight end is confident he has the upper hand.

"Really, they can't guard me," Winslow told ESPNNewYork.com. "That's how I feel, and I can't be guarded, you know?"

The 30-year-old Winslow signed a one-year deal with the Jets during the offseason. The Browns drafted Winslow in 2004, and he played there until '08.

"Who's going to guard me over there? Nobody," Winslow said. "That's how I feel, and that's how I play the game. That's how you gotta play the game. You've just got to play the game, and that's all."

Winslow has played 31 percent of the snaps this season, which includes a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's performance-enhancing substances policy. Despite those limitations, Winslow is fourth on the Jets in receptions and fifth in receiving yards.

So, is Winslow just spouting off and creating bulletin board material, like wide receiver Santonio Holmes did last week when he called the Carolina Panthers' secondary their "weakest link"?

Those players made Holmes pay for his words by holding him to two catches and 14 yards.

Winslow has intimated that he doesn't understand why he doesn't play more for the Jets. It could be grousing, but his offensive coordinator agrees with him.

"He should've," Marty Mornhinweg said. "Yeah, it's just that simple."

Winslow doesn't practice every day and has been listed on the injury report because of his knees, which have been an issue for him ever since an Ohio motorcycle accident in 2005. Later, Winslow acquired a staph infection and criticized the Browns for the way they handled his injury.

"Kellen's still a heck of a player now, great hands, you can see that," Mornhinweg said. "I'm sure he'll be jacked up for this one."

Offensive lineman Willie Colon said he knows where Winslow, the son of NFL Hall of Famer Kellen Winslow, gets his intensity.

"He's chippy, but we need that," Colon said. "He was birthed into an organization in the AFC North, and that division is all about the 'Bad News Bears' types, we all have a chip on our shoulder. He understands his pedigree, he understands his name and he plays hard."

Winslow has been a reliable target, catching 4 of 7 passes thrown his way for 73 yards in the past two games. And he said he's confident that this season he's made a strong case that he belongs in the NFL after being cut from the New England Patriots at the start of 2012.

"Oh, for sure," Winslow said. "And that's the name of the game -- when the tape's turned on, I feel good about what I put on tape. Because nobody cares about practice really, it's all about the game on what's on tape. Dealing with politics, this and that, just the game of the game, it's all about Sunday and what you put on tape, and that's what they can go back to."

His brashness may make for bulletin board material, but teammates like backup quarterback David Garrard and wide receiver Jeremy Kerley said they love playing with Winslow. Kerley said people look at Winslow "the wrong way."

Garrard said it will take rookie quarterback Geno Smith time to use Winslow fully.

"He should be a safety blanket for Geno," Garrard said. "That's something that comes with time. And Geno will learn to find guys like that, but right now he's trying to go through all the details of how the coaches are telling him to go through certain reads. He's not at the point where he can just say, 'You know, Kellen should be open right there, I'm going to give him a chance to work right here.'"

The Jets will have to decide at the end of the season whether to keep Winslow on the roster for another season. He know what it feels like to miss a year after the Patriots cut him, and it wasn't easy.

"I think Kellen has been through a lot physically, with his knee," Colon said. "What he does to get in the game and be on the field is a lot for any player. I think for me, I respect it because he trains hard and does everything he can to give us a fair shot."

Winslow gets two more weeks to get it all on tape, but he doesn't seem to lack motivation this week.

Jane McManus has covered New York sports since 1998 and began covering football just before Brett Favre's stint with the Jets. Her work has appeared in Newsday, USA Today, The Journal News and The New York Times. Follow Jane on Twitter.

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