BOSTON — New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker said he regrets comments he made referring to foot-fetish reports involving New York Jets Coach Rex Ryan.

“Yeah, sure I do,” Welker told the Boston Herald, according to a report on the newspaper’s website Tuesday.

At a news conference on Jan. 13, three days before the Jets beat the Patriots 28-21 in a divisional playoff game, Welker made about a dozen references to toes and feet, a not-so-subtle dig at Ryan. Patriots Coach Bill Belichick benched Welker for the first offensive series of that game.

In the week before the game, the Jets’ Antonio Cromartie used an expletive in referring to Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

Welker told the Herald it’s sometimes tough to keep from responding to opponents’ remarks.

“It’s not always easy to keep a lid on it,” he said, “but, at the same time, there’s a greater goal and that’s winning the game and playing good football. That’s what matters. All that other stuff doesn’t matter at the end of the day.”

Welker was on the field as a punt returner on the Jets’ first series but sat out the Patriots’ first possession despite having led the team with 86 catches this season.

Asked at a postgame news conference why Welker was on the bench, Belichick said, “I don’t have any comment on that.”

Welker told the Herald he didn’t want to go into details, but “I don’t think it’s worth putting Coach in that situation,” he said. “So in a sense, I do regret it.”


BEARS: QB Jay Cutler’s teammates, coach and general manager defended him in the wake of Twitter posts by current and former players who questioned his toughness for sitting out most of the second half of Sunday’s playoff loss.

“Our quarterback’s a tough guy,” said Bears Coach Lovie Smith. “ It’s pretty simple what happened (Sunday). Before the half, Jay hurt his knee. He showed a lot of toughness to continue to play with it.”

Smith said Cutler sprained the medial collateral ligament in his left knee late in the first half and emphasized the team and medical staff made the call to lift the quarterback, who played the first series in the third quarter.

Jacksonville running back Maurice Jones-Drew and Arizona defensive lineman Darnell Dockett, along with former players like Deion Sanders and ESPN analyst Mark Schlereth, were among those criticizing Cutler on Sunday.


BENGALS: Chad Ochocinco suggested at the end of an interview with ESPN that he’s planning to change his name back to Johnson. He didn’t give a specific reason, other than saying he’s “done enough with the Ocho thing.”


RAIDERS: Oakland officially hired longtime NFL assistant Al Saunders as its offensive coordinator.


VIKINGS: Minnesota signed former CFL receiver Emmanuel Arceneaux to a three-year contract.

Arceneaux caught 130 passes for 1,972 yards and 12 TDs in the last two seasons with the B.C. Lions.


EAGLES: Michael Vick signed his first endorsement contract since his release from prison, inking a two-year contract with Unequal Technologies, a provider of the football pads Vick wore most of last season.


BRONCOS: New head coach John Fox hired secondary coach Ron Milus and linebackers coach Richard Smith, who were assistants on his staff the last two seasons at Carolina.