Friday, March 7, 2014
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New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker (83) gestures to fans as he leaves the field after their 23-16 win in an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012, in Miami. Welker tied Jerry Rice's NFL record by making at least 10 receptions for the 17th time. He had 12 catches for 103 yards and a score. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
After all, that is the New England way.
"I'm really trying not to think about it too much. (I) appreciate you bringing that up," Welker said with a grin. "I've just moved on from it and just worked hard and tried to get better.
"And, luckily, I'm where I'm at today."
He also won't look ahead to where he might be next season, once his $9.5 million, one-year deal that came with his franchise tag expires. There will be a time to think about contracts. This weekend is not that time.
"I'm not worried about a contract at all," he said.
And when he says that, you get the sense that he truly means it. His statistics might not be this high otherwise. In fact, special teams captain and wide receiver Matthew Slater, along the way, has admired Welker's "professionalism" in five years as teammates.
"A guy like that who's been able to accomplish all that he has here, he never loses his sense of urgency. He never loses the respect that you have to have for this game," Slater said. "It would be easy for a guy like that to take a couple of days off or not practice as hard here and there, but he doesn't."
That can motivate his teammates, of course. Yet another trait synonymous with the Patriots.
"If you see a guy who's caught 100 balls every year working harder than everybody else, you definitely better be working as hard as you can," Slater said. "There's no room for slacking."
So, as expected, Welker is preparing diligently to face the Texans and a secondary that's banged up. Cornerback Johnathan Joseph was limited in practice Friday after missing the last two games with a hamstring injury and Houston coach Gary Kubiak said a decision on whether he'll play will be made in the next couple of days.
Joseph said he expects to play. But nickel cornerback Brice McCain had surgery on his left foot on Monday and Alan Ball missed the last game with a sore foot. Clearly, the Texans a bit dinged.
"You don't have as much film" on players who will fill in, Welker said. "But you can still study the games that they are in there, and really try and get an edge."
Welker usually does.
As a slot receiver, he catches passes at the line of scrimmage as well as quick slants, then does a good job running after the catch. He also can take advantage of certain defensive formations and break down field. And he makes key contributions even when the ball is thrown to someone else. He doesn't give up on plays.
That's not likely the change.
"He busts his butt harder than anybody to make sure he's doing his job to clear out on a certain route or to take some coverage with him so another guy can get the ball," Brady said. "I think that's what makes Wes really special, is his selflessness as a player.
"But the ball always seems to find a way to him."