FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – It’s looking more and more like the Patriots will be short-handed on offense Monday night against the New York Jets.

On Friday, the Patriots were missing receiver Josh Gordon (knee/ankle) as well as tight ends Matt LaCosse (knee) and Ryan Izzo at practice. Gordon and LaCosse have missed all three practices this week. They almost certainly won’t play against the Jets.

Izzo, however, is a new absence. It’s never a great sign when a player misses a practice late in a week. The Pats will hold one more session on Saturday before traveling to New Jersey on Sunday.

In the event Izzo can’t play, the Patriots will rely on newcomers Ben Watson and Eric Tomlinson. Both tight ends signed with the Pats this week. Watson could  start at tight end in his return to the team after being released last week. This week, he said he felt he was ready to make an impact.

“Yeah, of course. One thing about this place, they prepare the players to play,” Watson said. “Anybody who’s out there, no matter if you’ve been here the entire time or been here a week, your job is to perform when called upon. That’s what I expect to do.”

Without Gordon, the Patriots will rely on Julian Edelman, Phillip Dorsett, Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski at receiver. Edelman (chest) and Dorsett (hamstring) have been limited this week.

WHILE IT had to be tempting, Watson didn’t give away or discard his kids’ Patriots gear.

New England had just surprisingly cut the veteran tight end, but he chose to put it away rather than throw it away.

New England Coach Bill Belichick said he’d cut Watson because he didn’t have a roster spot to activate him from his four-game suspension. But the coach didn’t rule out bringing him back.

Watson thought there was a good chance he was done.

Watson told his kids, especially, his 8-year-old football-smitten son, Isaiah, that it was OK to still root for the Patriots. He knew the other kids in their Massachusetts school would still be rooting for New England and he didn’t want to deny them that shared community rooting experience.

“I told them just because the team fired me, or cut daddy, if you want to be a fan, that’s fine. I don’t want you all holding the same feelings me and mommy have. I don’t want that to be your burden,” he said. “If a week goes by or a day goes by and the kids at school are talking about the game, I want you to be OK wearing your stuff.”

With seven children with his wife, Kirsten, and a football career winding down, he’s more dad than athlete now. Every reaction he has to a situation and decision he makes is filtered through how will it affect his family.

After originally planning to retire in the offseason, Watson said only a few organizations presented good enough situations to lure him back for another year. His family had friends in Massachusetts inside and outside of the organization from his first stint in New England (2004-09). On top of that, a return offered a chance for another Super Bowl ring.

After serving a four-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs he knowingly took when he still planned to retire, the Patriots had a week to activate or cut him. Belichick chose not to take someone off his active roster thus letting Watson go.

“Part of the ride home after being fired was wondering ‘how am I going to tell my kids about it?’ They had a lot of anticipation as we all did,” he said. “This is a part of pro sports, but this is a part of life. There’s going to be some disappointment. There’s going to be some victories. There’s going to be some sad times and some happy times. How do you proceed through those? How do you process that? We had some tears and some good conversations that will continue.”

With his kids in school, Watson said he wasn’t uprooting his family and he wasn’t spending the season living someplace without them.

“There wasn’t anywhere else I would have seen myself going back to because the family is here,” he said.

In other words, if Belichick called he’d be a football player, if not he was an ex-football player.

“Sometimes a guy gets released and he’s back in the couple days. Sometimes that’s it. At this point in my career, I know the end is close. You never know how it’s going to end,” he said. “When that happened there was a lot of disappointment and sadness about it, going through everything I went through to have a chance to play. This is part of it.”

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