Jets TE Kellen Winslow motivated

Updated: August 2, 2013, 9:31 AM ET
By Rich Cimini | ESPNNewYork.com

CORTLAND, N.Y. -- Still bitter over a messy divorce last year from the Seattle Seahawks, and motivated to prove he's not washed up at 30, tight end Kellen Winslow reported to the New York Jets' training camp with a bold ambition.

"My goal is to have 100 catches," he said Thursday. "Will I catch 100? I don't know. It might be 20, but that's the goal."

Winslow, battling chronic pain in his oft-repaired right knee, is attempting to resurrect his career after playing in only one game last season. That came with the New England Patriots, who picked him up two weeks after his Seattle release.

One year later, Winslow still believes he was mistreated by the Seahawks, who cut him at the end of the preseason after he refused to accept a pay cut.

"They cut me over money. They put me in a bad situation," he said. "I can't even speak on it. It's just frustrating what happened. You just don't do a vet like that."

Winslow's ire seemed to be directed at coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider. Ironically, the Seahawks' contract negotiator was John Idzik, who left to become the Jets' GM. Winslow said he harbors no ill will toward Idzik, who signed him in June after a minicamp audition.

"That wasn't him at all; there was another GM there," Winslow said. "John gave me a chance to come here. Much props to John. He knows what I can do."

From 2006 to 2011, he was one of the most productive tight ends in the league, averaging 72 catches per year. Physically, it hasn't been easy. He ripped up his knee in a 2005 motorcycle accident and he battled two staph infections during his time with the Cleveland Browns. He has endured multiple knee surgeries. A tattoo on his left forearm reads: "Without struggle there is no progress."

It could be a mantra for his career.

"My will takes over for my pain," he said.

It was widely speculated that he requested his release in September from the Patriots because the pain was too intense, but he claimed that wasn't the reason.

He said he was too far behind with the playbook to compete for playing time with Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.

"You can't come in Week 3, with those guys, and think you're going to get in," he said. "It wasn't worth me being there in that situation because I know what I can do."

The Jets are hoping Winslow can be the player he was in 2011, when he caught 75 passes for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. New York is thin at tight end, and could use a veteran playmaker. The big question is whether his body -- mainly, his knee -- can handle the rigors of camp.

Winslow's reps are monitored on a daily basis. He doesn't practice on back-to-back days, and some days -- like Thursday -- he rests for the second half of practice. Midway through the session, he walked off the field, pulled off his shoulder pads and rode a stationary bike. That was the plan.

"He's like a thoroughbred horse that you hold at the gate," tight ends coach Steve Hagen said. "He wants to run, run, run."

But the medical staff is being smart, not wanting to risk another injury. Hagen downplayed the impact of lost practice time, insisting Winslow's experience will help him fit in.

"He's not a knucklehead; he knows the game," Hagen said. "He's in every meeting. It's not like he's off playing poker."

The Jets took a small gamble by signing Winslow to a one-year contract, hoping he and likely starter Jeff Cumberland can be a 1-2 punch. How much does he have left?

"I don't know," Hagen said. "I don't have a crystal ball. I'm not sure he can answer that question himself."

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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