More than halfway through his first season in New England, wide receiver Kelley Washington has yet to catch a pass. Active for seven of their nine games to date, he has contributed some solid play on special teams to the Patriots’ undefeated season, registering nine tackles and forcing one fumble. Whether he’ll remain a Patriot for the long haul is subject to some conjecture.

More than halfway through his first season in New England, wide receiver Kelley Washington has yet to catch a pass.

Which isn’t to say that Washington has slept here.

Active for seven of their nine games to date (he missed two with a hamstring injury), the 6-3, 215-pounder has contributed some solid play on special teams to the Patriots’ undefeated season, registering nine tackles and forcing one fumble.

“I feel I work really hard in trying to help the team on special teams and a little bit on offense,” Washington said. “I think that’s helped me out as a player, being able to make the team on special teams. I’m just happy to be a Patriot.”

Whether he’ll remain a Patriot for the long haul is subject to some conjecture.
 
While wide receivers Wes Welker (61 receptions), Randy Moss (56) and Donte’ Stallworth (28) – all of them first-year players, like him, in the Patriots’ system – have established themselves as threats (to varying degrees) and Jabar Gaffney has chipped in with 12 catches, Washington really has done no more than settle in as the team’s fifth option at that position.

Washington’s future in New England is clouded. Second-year wide receiver Chad Jackson was activated off the physically unable to perform list Wednesday, and the clock is ticking on the three-week window for the Patriots to either activate veteran Troy Brown or place him on the injured reserve list.
 
“There’s been competition ever since training camp, all season, so whatever happens, happens,” Washington said Tuesday, before he and his teammates left Gillette Stadium for their bye-week break. “That’s all part of the game. That’s the business of it.”

With a failed fling as a farmhand of baseball’s Florida Marlins (who selected him in the 10th round of the 1997 June draft) and four frustrating seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals (who chose him in the third round of the 2003 April draft) behind him, Washington has experienced the business side of two games.

Retiring from baseball after hitting .205 and committing 20 errors at third base in 107 games of Single-A ball in 2000 with a Kane County Cougars team whose pitching staff included a righthander by the name of Josh Beckett, Washington hauled in 70 passes for 1,080 yards and seven touchdowns as a 22-year-old freshman at the University of Tennessee in 2001.

After injuries limited him to four games (he made 23 catches) with the Volunteers in 2002, Washington opted to go pro in a second sport.

Following four underachieving seasons marred by injuries in Cincinnati (72 career receptions in 44 games), Washington signed with New England as an unrestricted free agent on March 13 of this year.

While his play on special teams cannot be overlooked, with Jackson back on board and Brown working to get there, the possibility that Washington will be relocating again exists.

“I can’t really get into all that,” Washington said. “It’s out of my control. The only thing I can control is preparing myself and coming out week in and week out and giving it a good effort. That’s all I can control. Anything else is out of my hands.”

-- The Enterprise