If you listen to sports talk radio or read certain pro football blogs, you might find that some have come to the conclusion that New England's offense actually benefited from Wes Welker'sinjury occurring when it did. That it may have helped, in game planning for this weekend's Wild Card Playoff Game versus the Baltimore Ravens, to know far enough in advance that Welker wouldn't be part of the equation, as opposed to planning on having him in the post-season and then losing him.
Not everyone is buying that sales pitch, least of all the Pro Bowl wide receiver's Patriots teammates.
"He got hurt, so I don't want to say it's more beneficial. The fact that we lost him is the issue," running back Sammy Morrisstated. "It's still a player we lost from our offense. I guess you could say having a week to prepare as far as not having him in there, yeah. For us, it's hard to look at it from that perspective because we lost Wes for the year."
Another argument being floated in several parts of the sports talk universe is that the Patriots will be forced to spread the ball around more without their leading receiver, and thus will be a more complicated team to defend.
"I guess you'd have to ask the Ravens that," Morris replied. "Injuries are part of the game. It's just something we have to deal with and however we plan to regroup is going to be seen this week."
"It all depends on how you look at it," running back Kevin Faulkanswered. It was apparent that he took issue with some in the media who are predicting doom for New England without Welker in these playoffs.
"You all are the experts. You know what we're doing. It all depends on how you look at it … I think by what you all say, we don't [have confidence]. We laid it down. Everybody's saying that we're done. That's why we're being us, not saying anything and going about our business."
The Patriots won't have Welker, but they still have their Pro Bowl quarterback, as Morris pointed out.
"It's still Tom Brady," he said. "There is still confidence in our offense. Each game is a different entity in itself, so it's not really about flat-out pure numbers, it's about winning."
"I've been playing with Tom for ten years," added Faulk. "He's like a brother - the things that he does, the way he came back from injury last year. I know in his heart he feels like he hasn't played his best football yet, but at the same time, we always have confidence in him."
Thursday practice/locker room notebook
LB Jerod Mayois looking forward to his first post-season game in the NFL.
"I am. The biggest game I've ever played in was the SEC Championship Game," he told reporters Thursday. "But this is a huge game, and every game is a huge game from here on … I don't really know what to expect. I just know how to play football and that's what I'm going to do."
Is he doing anything differently to prepare because it's such a meaningful game?
"I feel like I've worked hard all year. I'm approaching this game the same way. There's a lot more media hype, but at the end of the day, you have to do your job.
"I think the sense of urgency is there," Mayo continued. "We all know what we have to do. We have to go out there and perform each and every week, or we'll be home."
For the second day in a row, every Patriot except OL Dan Connolly, who injured an ankle against Houston, took part fully in practice today. Like the Wednesday workout, Thursday's session was held on the Gillette Stadium game surface, with players wearing helmets, shells, and sweats.