New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Thursday, December 10, 2009. Welker was selected as a wide receiver for the USA Football/NFLPA 'All-Fundamentals' Team.
Andre Tippett: Good afternoon, everyone. USA Football is the official youth football development of the New England Patriots, the NFL, and the NFLPA. A committee was assembled to select the league's most fundamentally sound football players for youngsters to emulate at all 26 positions. These 26 men have been saluted for their dedicated work within the communities in which they play. I'm pleased to share that Wes Welker was one of those 26 men that were selected, and on behalf of the New England Patriots, Mr. Kraft, we say congratulations and here is your award.
Wes Welker: I appreciate that, thanks. Thank you. Definitely, I'm very honored to get this award and I will definitely be able to give back to the community. I know there's a youth football league - we get give $1,500 to our choice of football league or high school - but there's definitely a football league that's back in Oklahoma City that I already give money to, and this is definitely going to come in very handy for those kids and I look forward to getting that to them.
Q: This award is for fundamentals and it says specifically for 'catching with your hands.' Is that a skill that you take pride in - being able to be fundamentally sound?
WW: Yeah, absolutely. As far as catching the ball, that's pretty much our job. Coach [Bill Belichick] always talks about get open and catch the ball, so they're constantly two things I'm always working on. This offseason, back in Oklahoma City, I actually bought one of the jugs machines for my backyard so whenever I was back home I could always work on it and have my dad out there shooting them to me and stuff and making sure I'm getting out there once every couple days and catching a bunch of balls and kind of getting some work in that way. And after practice, every Wednesday and Thursday, I hit the jugs machine and get about 25-30 balls just to make sure I'm staying on top of it and catching those balls with your hands. The more you do it, the easier it becomes. I remember when I first got in the league, Marty Schottenheimer told me you don't catch the ball with your hands, you catch the ball with your eyes, which I thought was very interesting, and it works. If you keep your eyes on the ball and really focus in on it, it definitely makes it a lot easier to catch.
Q: You mentioned Marty Schottenheimer, but when you were growing up and playing football that seems like an ideal time to start building fundamentals. Was there a particular coach or league or anything like that that taught you certain things early on?
WW: Yeah. I remember Mike Leach used to have us catching tennis balls during the offseason. He always came up with funky ways. I like catching a football from the Jugs machine, but I think it served a purpose and had some influence as far as that goes. But definitely the repetitions of just catching a ball over and over again - and there're different drills you can do, where you're not looking for the ball and somebody calls your name or says 'ball' and you turn and catch the ball. Just different little drills like that where you just continue to work on them and it just becomes a habit.
Q: You get most of your attention for your quickness and your ability to get open. Is it nice to get some recognition for your hands, too?
WW: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. It's kind of funny though. Coach Belichick always talks to me about 'make sure you always catch it with your hands.' At the end of the day, as long as you're catching the ball, whether it's against your chest or however you're doing it, you're going to catch the ball however you need to. If I try to catch the ball with my hands and I drop it, I know he's going to be all over me, so I just let him know that I'm going to catch the ball however I need to catch the ball, whether it's with my hands, chest, legs, whatever. [I] just make sure I secure the catch.
Q: In context of what's going on this week, do you feel as if the team's focus is solely one what's going on this week and that things can start moving forward again?
WW: Yeah. I mean, that's what you've got to do, especially after the loss we came off of. The best thing you can do is just get back to work and really just get back after it. That's what we plan on doing and we had a good practice yesterday and we need to carry that on into today and keep on playing well.