FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- A little more than a year ago, Kellen Winslow walked away from the Patriots, deciding a backup role with the squad didn't merit the strenuous work he put his body through.
"It was just wrong timing. For me, it's a lot of hard work because of my knee. It wasn't worth it with me sitting," Winslow said about asking for his release from the Patriots last September. "So it was better for me to just chill out for a year, soak it in, and come back next year. I knew I'd be here."
This Thursday, Winslow returns to Gillette Stadium, but he'll be wearing opponents' colors as he and the Jets face the Patriots. Winslow had an impressive debut with the Jets as he had a team-best seven catches for 79 yards and a touchdown in their 18-17 win over the Buccaneers last Sunday.
"I really haven't done anything yet," Winslow said. "It's one game, and I have a long way to go."
Winslow joined the Patriots after the Seahawks cut him for financial reasons at the end of the preseason last year, a move he's still upset with.
"That's just the way they do things over there, I guess," Winslow said of the Seahawks. "I'm happy to be back."
Winslow played in one game with the Patriots last season, catching one pass for 12 yards, but asked for his release due to the team's massive array of offensive weapons. The 30-year-old, who battles with chronic pain in his surgically repaired right knee, didn't latch on with another team the rest of the year.
The veteran said he has no regrets about leaving the Patriots, even though he'd likely be their starting tight end at the moment with starter Rob Gronkowski injured. He complimented the Patriots organization, calling them one of the smartest teams in the NFL.
The Jets took a shot on Winslow by giving him a mini-camp tryout, and they saw enough to sign him to a deal. Sunday, the Jets received immediate dividends as Winslow played a huge role in helping the Jets win, as he had a critical 25-yard grab on the game-winning drive to go along with his touchdown.
"Is he as good as he once was? Maybe not," Jets head coach Rex Ryan. "But he's still pretty darn good."
Winslow was quick to downplay his strong effort in his first game, but he could be a nice security blanket for rookie Geno Smith. After last year proved to be a trying year, Winslow still believes he has plenty of good football ahead of him.
"It's expected from me. I just expect that from myself," Winslow said. "When it's clutch time and time to make a play that's what I live for. That's what it's all about. I don't want to let these guys down, and vice versa. That's what it's all about."
CUMBERLAND UPDATE: Fellow tight end Jeff Cumberland (chin) said he's felling "pretty good" and will play Thursday. Cumberland said he cut his chin during the game when his teeth bit through his lip. He had to leave the game after receiving a big hit from Dashon Goldson, but returned.