Welker, Patriots open training camp
FOXBOROUGH, MASS. (AP), July 26, 2012
Wes Welker was jogging back to the line after running a route during
the New England Patriots' first training camp session Thursday when
owner Bob Kraft arrived on the sideline and pointed in his direction.
Wasting no time, the Pro Bowl receiver immediately approached Kraft,
the two sharing a quick embrace and a handshake before parting ways.
At least on the surface, everything appears to be just fine between
Welker and the Patriots despite the two failing to agree on a long-term
contract this offseason.
''Everyone tried. I tried, they tried, and it just didn't work out,''
said Welker, who signed a $9.5 million franchise tender on May 15.
''It's in the past and we're moved onto this season, which we expect to
be a good one.''
Welker is now resigned to playing out his one-year deal after both
sides couldn't come to terms on a longer contract before July 15, the
deadline to sign franchised players to a multiyear pact.
Coming off one of the greatest seasons of his career, when he had a
league-high 122 receptions for 1,569 yards and a career-best nine
touchdowns in helping the Patriots reach the Super Bowl, Welker knows
it's a new year, and proving yourself, he said, comes with the
''There's no year where you don't need to prove it. It's like any other
year,'' Welker said. ''The contract and everything else is out of my
mind. It's really just going out there and focusing on playing good
Welker, who tweeted after signing his tender that ''hopefully doing the
right thing gets the right results. (hash)leapoffaith,'' said Thursday
that it wasn't difficult not to take it personally. While he clearly
feels he's deserving of a long-term deal, he also understands the
business side of it.
''You always kind of think it's going to happen and then, I don't know.
I think you just get excited,'' he said. ''But at the same time, you're
very fortunate the position you're in and I look forward to really
playing out this year and playing some of the best ball I can play.''
The Patriots seem intent on doing just that, too, joining a slew of
former faces with familiar ones in hopes of bouncing back from a 21-17
loss to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl.
Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who guided New England's
record-setting offense in 2007, is back calling the plays for
quarterback Tom Brady and the offense after serving as head coach of
the Denver Broncos and offensive coordinator of the St. Louis Rams.
Receivers Jabar Gaffney and Donte' Stallworth, both members of that
2007 squad, also have returned, and receiver Brandon Lloyd, who played
for McDaniels in both Denver and St. Louis, adds a much-needed deep
threat to an already high-scoring offense.
''We have a lot of good players on our team and everybody really
working together and understanding that we all work off each other,''
Welker said. ''The more guys we have out there doing the right thing,
the better off we're going to be as an offense. It's exciting to see
and we still have a lot of work ahead of us and we look forward to it.''
Admitting that ''this is home for me and it's great to be back,''
McDaniels' relationship with Brady appears to have picked up right
where it left off.
''Every year you reestablish all those connections ... you really work
hard to recreate those relationships,'' he said. ''Each one of our
relationships probably grows and matures a little bit each year and I
think that's where Tom and I are, but we'll always try to get better
and communicate better as we go forward through camp.''
McDaniels wouldn't comment on Welker's contract situation, saying only
that he doesn't believe it will play a role in his season.
''Wes has got a great attitude and has worked extremely hard in the
offseason, had a really good day today,'' McDaniels said. ''I'm going
to coach him hard just like I always have.''
Some fans may have forgotten the consistent contributions from the
dependable receiver during his five seasons in New England, instead
choosing to remember the ball he didn't catch, a crucial second-and-11
pass from Brady with 4:06 remaining in the Super Bowl that likely would
have sealed a victory for New England.
He wasn't asked Thursday about dropping that pivotal pass, though he
insinuated there's a lot left for him to do.
''I look forward and think that I have so much more that I can prove
and conquer out there,'' Welker said. ''I plan on working hard and
doing what it takes to go out there and do it.''
And what if he has another stellar season this year and then lingers
through a similar contractual dispute next summer?
Not a concern.
''That's a great situation,'' Welker said, ''so not too worried about