September 17, 2014

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Winslow puts focus on Browns finishing strong

BEREA – Kellen Winslow isn`t focused on the controversial incompletion Sunday on the final play of the loss to the Cardinals.
“I don`t even think about that anymore,” he said Thursday. “It`s gone, it`s in the past.”
Or the fact that he`s fourth in fan Pro Bowl voting for AFC tight ends – despite having the best statistics.
“I don`t even think about that, man,” he said. “All I can do is play ball and make plays.”
Or breaking his namesake father`s single-season yardage record for tight ends.
“There is no comparison,” he said. “He`s a Hall of Famer. He`s in line as the best ever.”
This doesn`t mean Winslow doesn`t care. Quite the contrary. He`s driven to be the best he can be, which he thinks would make him the best tight end to ever play the game – famous father or not.
But Winslow`s focus is on a four-game stretch that will determine the Browns` fate.
“I really want to finish 11-5,” he said. “That`s what I had down in my book as a goal.”
Winslow makes a preseason list of personal and team goals. In August, 11-5 seemed as realistic as the Cavaliers making the NBA Finals with LeBron James on the bench with an injury. But the Browns are 7-5, tied with Tennessee for the second AFC wild-card spot and finish with the Jets (3-9), Bills (6-6), Bengals (4-8) and 49ers (3-9).
“We want to finish 11-5 and have a shot at the playoffs,” Winslow said. “We have the Jets this week, that`s all we`re worried about. We`re in the hunt, but we want to separate ourselves from everybody else.”
It`s safe to say Winslow will be a key to the playoff drive. He`s caught a team-high 65 passes for a career-high 909 yards and five touchdowns. He leads NFL tight ends in yardage and is tied for second in catches with Dallas` Jason Witten behind Kansas City`s Tony Gonzalez (72). Winslow`s 14.0-yard average leads tight ends.
Yet Winslow is a distant fourth in fan voting for the Pro Bowl with 176,112 votes. San Diego`s Antonio Gates is first with 351,240, Indianapolis` Dallas Clark is second (274,955) and Gonzalez is third (272,271).
“I just try and let my play speak,” Winslow said. “If I was 10th, it doesn`t matter. I`m trying to help my team win.
“It doesn`t bother me. I know what I can do, my teammates know what I can do. That`s all that really matters.”
Winslow, despite the perception of many, is truly a team guy. He takes losses as hard as anyone, and has even been melancholy after wins if he viewed the team`s performance as unsatisfactory.
But that doesn`t mean he`s without ego. He still feels he`s the best tight end in the league; he`s just more low-key about the belief.
“Sometimes the media takes it out of context,” he said. “I think I`m the best tight end. It`s just my competitive nature. I don`t see it any other way.”
Winslow concedes that he`s not the best blocker and gives Witten credit for being an all-around tight end.
“I`m more of a pass-catching tight end,” he said. “I feel I`m the best at what I do, and that`s making plays.”
Whether Winslow`s the best is debatable, but there`s no denying his playmaking ability has been on display throughout the season. Not only did he come down with the potential winning catch Sunday and manage to get a foot inbounds while being pushed by two defenders – “I was lucky,” he said – he had 10 catches for 125 yards vs. Seattle and 10 for 107 vs. Houston, many in traffic as he beat double coverage.
Yet Winslow said he dwells on the rare drops and the missed blocks and uses them as motivation.
“I can get a lot better. I`m not doing all the little stuff,” he said. “I could be blocking better. I don`t really focus on the things that are going good, I focus on the things I can get better at.”
Despite lapses, real or imagined, and a right knee that`s been through hell the last two years, Winslow is on pace for 87 catches (he had 89 last year) and 1,212 yards. His dad`s season record is 1,290 in 1980.
Would he like to pass dear old dad?
“Who wouldn`t? He`s my father,” Winslow said. “If I don`t, I don`t. If I do, I do. I`m trying to set all the records. I`m trying to be the best.”
He spent his childhood watching film of his dad, Cris Carter and Jerry Rice. They are three of the all-time best at catching with their hands – a skill Winslow picked up.
“He has the best hands on this team,” running back Jamal Lewis said. “He works on his hands all the time. He always has a ball in his hands.
“He`s phenomenal. He was born to do this.”
Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7135 or spetrak@chroniclet.com.