FLORHAM PARK, N.J -- The New York Jets replaced LaRon Landry with his brother, Dawan. But they might have actually found their new LaRon Landry in tight end Kellen Winslow.
As with LaRon Landry prior to the 2012 season, the Jets bought low on Winslow, who signed a one-year deal in June after impressing the team during a tryout at veteran minicamp.
And after one game, it appears as if Winslow could provide the kind of return this year that LaRon Landry did last year, when LaRon filled the Jets' gaping need at safety by playing in all 16 games and earning All-Pro honors.
While Geno Smith got most of the attention Sunday, Winslow was a revelation in his own right. The injury-plagued tight end -- who played in just one game last season -- led the Jets with seven catches for 79 yards and caught the Jets' lone touchdown in their 18-17 win over the Buccaneers. He more than filled the hole created when Dustin Keller signed with the Miami Dolphins as an unrestricted free agent.
Thought it's just one game, Winslow said he believes there are big things ahead for him in 2013.
"Of course. Like I said, it's expected from me," Winslow said Tuesday. "I just expect that from myself. When its clutch time and it's time to make a play, that's what I live for man. That's what it's all about. I don't want to let these guys down and vice versa."
Winslow saved his biggest catch for last by going over the middle and pulling in a 25-yard pass from Smith that helped set up Nick Folk's 48-yard field goal with two seconds left.
"To make that huge catch at the end -- holy cow, and then he runs with it some," head coach Rex Ryan said. "Big play."
As impressive as his stats were, Winslow wowed the Jets even more with his effort and enthusiasm, particularly on a first quarter block that sprung Smith for a first down.
"He's a tremendous receiver -- we all know that," Ryan said of Winslow, who has averaged 78 catches for 872 yards in the five seasons in which he has played 16 games. "He's so darn competitive."
It remains to be seen if Winslow can match LaRon Landry's feat by playing in all 16 games, never mind parlaying a successful comeback season into a lucrative multi-year pact as LaRon did with the Colts.
Winslow is 30, almost three years older than Landry was at the start of last season, and has been plagued by knee injuries since his rookie season. But the Jets will take whatever they can get from Winslow, whose presence Sunday helped lift what looked like a league-worst passing game into something far better.
Overlooked and discarded, Winslow said he's driven by the doubters in his past and present, including the New England Patriots. It's the reason he plays with reckless abandon and passion.
"I think I need to be like that. Knowing myself, I have to be that way," said Winslow. "It motivates me when guys think they're better than me. It's fun. It's just all competition and I like that."
Winslow has put in extra time with Smith, and the early dividends were evident. With Santonio Holmes working his way back from a foot injury and Stephen Hill posting a career-best six receptions last week, Winslow wants to show the Jets' receiving options are better than most pundits believe.
He said his connection with Smith has been good.
"We're just continuing to work. It just takes time, you know. Him knowing me, me knowing him, within the framework of the offense. So, it just takes a little time," Winslow said.