WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. -- While the rest of his New Orleans Saints teammates flew back to West Virginia after last week's preseason opener at Baltimore, tight end Benjamin Watson hitched a ride back to New Orleans on owner Tom Benson's private jet.
As a result, Watson made it home about eight hours before his wife Kirsten gave birth to their fifth child -- daughter Eden.
"I went home and spent time with the family for about four days. And you can't replace that," said Watson, who returned to West Virginia on Tuesday afternoon. "So family's always first. And this organization, they make it a point to say, look, if you've got family issues or you're having a baby, go take time with your family."
But while Watson said it was "obviously" good to get away, he said it was also good to be back on the practice field Wednesday. And it showed. The 34-year-old veteran continued his impressive summer, catching a flurry of passes in team drills against his original team, the New England Patriots, who are in town for joint practices. Among Watson's highlights was a touchdown in red zone drills.
"Ben Watson is such an unsung hero. That guy, he can do everything," said Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who reiterated for the second or third time this summer that Watson is the team's starting tight end, though Josh Hill will used often in two-tight end sets. "He's great in the passing game, great route runner, great catching the ball, great at getting open. He's a great pass blocker, he's a great run blocker, he's just a great person in the huddle and the locker room. Just one of the greatest pros you could ever want."
Watson caught up with some familiar faces before and after practice Wednesday -- including his first NFL quarterback, Tom Brady. When asked whether he'll tell his kids one day that he got to play for two all-time great quarterbacks, Watson said, "I definitely will."
"I'm going to have clips from practice and games saying, ‘I really was on the field with these guys. I know you don't believe me, I look broke down now. But there was a time when I was out there,'" said Watson, who also mentioned "iconic, legendary" former teammates like Junior Seau and Randy Moss.