FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The release of tight end Kellen Winslow can be viewed through a few different lenses:
1. Aaron Hernandez is making a quick recovery. Unlike some other injured players in recent years, Hernandez has been visible in the team's locker room during media-access periods in the past week or so. He is walking around without crutches and hasn't even had a protective boot on his foot in the past few days. Hernandez and Winslow are similar-type tight ends, and with Hernandez perhaps not far from playing (he still has not returned to practice, however), Winslow might have seen a crowded position and an undefined role in his near future. The Patriots also might have seen a player who was a luxury as a fifth option on the depth chart, with greater needs elsewhere.
2. Daniel Fells' health also a factor. The Patriots targeted six-year veteran Daniel Fells in free agency as a third option behind Rob Gronkowski and Hernandez, but a shin injury limited him in training camp and kept him out of the first two games of the regular season. Fells made his debut Sunday night, playing five snaps in the three-TE package. Fells, who was with the team all offseason and thus has a firm grasp of the complete playbook, might be ready to assume more responsibilities as a second tight end until Hernandez returns. The Patriots also have Michael Hoomanawanui, who would factor in more as a blocker than Winslow.
3. Winslow and playing through knee pain. Winslow was honest last week when asked about the pain in his knee. He said he plays through a lot of pain and it's his will and ability to overcome that that keeps him going. It's possible it reached a point where he just simply didn't want to push through any more.