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Welker absent from practice; Tue. notes

Though he didn't show up for practice Tuesday, Wes Welker did speak briefly with reporters beforehand. The conversation was dominated, as you might expect, by the neck injury that appeared to end his night in Detroit on Saturday.

The Pro Bowl wide receiver was shaken up while making a tackle following a Tom Brady interception at the end of the first half. He looked like his head made contact with Lions safety Ricardo Silva awkwardly as he brought the defender to the ground. After jogging gingerly to the sideline, Welker was immediately treated by trainers, but was able to walk off the field under his own power to the halftime locker room.

Starters like Welker typically don't see much, if any, action in the fourth preseason game, so, if he were to sit out this Thursday's exhibition finale against the Giants, the reasons might not be medical in nature.

Then again, they might. Welker was circumspect when asked whether he's fit to play this week, and, more importantly, if he'll be ready for the regular season opener in Miami in less than two weeks.

"Whatever Coach [Belichick] decides on that, I'm fully in on whatever he says," Welker said with regard to Thursday.

As for the Week 1 Monday nighter against the Dolphins, his response was, "I hope so. We'll see what the doctors and trainers and everyone else says. Whatever they say is what's going to happen. I'm just working hard on trying to get back out there."

Around these parts, it's unusual for a player to talk with the media if he's out with an injury or going to be out for an extended period of time. From that perspective, then, perhaps Welker's injury isn't too concerning.

He did acknowledge, however, that, due to the location of the injury, he was a bit fearful at first of how severe it might be.

"I think anything that has to do with that part of your body is always scary, but we have good doctors, good trainers, so, I wasn't too worried about it."

Ochocinco: "I've done extremely well"

When asked after the Tampa game about his acclimation to the Patriots offense after a decade in Cincinnati, Chad Ochocinco was rather tough on himself, saying he was way behind and needed to get up to speed "yesterday."

Today, though, he was a little more generous in his self-assessment.

"Coming from any place where you've been 10 years, to come here and learn the verbiage and learn as much as I've learned in the past three weeks, I've done extremely well," he told reporters crowded around his locker.

He dubbed his experience to date in New England "fun," and "enjoyable," but conceded he's not yet at his optimal comfort level with the Patriots offense.

"On a scale of 1 to 10 … probably a 7," Ochocinco explained, "because right now, what I'm doing is, I'm able to go out and react as soon as I hear Tommy call something, I'm good, I'm set, but I'm still not in that comfort zone that I can just be me, exhale, and know, 'It's on. Let's play.'

"This is, what, my third week? Let's be realistic," he concluded, "this is the highest level of football and it's not easy."

Mankins gets philosophical

There was quite a bit of chippy play in the Patriots-Lions game the other night, and almost every time, Logan Mankins seemed to be in the middle of it. A reporter asked him today if, due to the violent nature of the game, it's fair for observers – professional or otherwise – to judge whether or not such extracurricular activity is dirty.

"Maybe. I don't know. I've done stuff I probably shouldn't do in games before; I've had stuff that shouldn't be done to me also," he philosophized. "Sometimes you get caught, sometimes you don't."

The All-Pro guard was also asked about the release of veteran safety James Sanders ,with whom Mankins was teammates not just in New England but also in college at Fresno State.

"It's always sad," Mankins replied, "to see someone go that's been here for a long time and helped the team a lot. We all wish James the best and wish he could have stayed."

For more on today's Patriots practice, please visit the PFW blog.

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