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Published: Sunday, 2/5/2012

Welker OK with being overlooked

ASSOCIATED PRESS
New England Patriots wide receiver wasn't drafted, is often over-looked, but has played a key role in the Patriots success. New England Patriots wide receiver wasn't drafted, is often over-looked, but has played a key role in the Patriots success.
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INDIANAPOLIS -- Wes Welker is used to being overlooked.

He's 5-foot-9. He wasn't drafted. His 11 catches couldn't prevent a Super Bowl loss four years ago. And in the run up to Sunday's rematch against the New York Giants, the New England Patriots wide receiver is getting little attention.

Welker's NFL-leading 122 receptions were in the shadow of the spotlight-filling injured ankle of 6-foot-6 tight end Rob Gronkowski. So does the small receiver feel he needs a big game to raise his profile?

"I don't think I am really worried about that too much," Welker said. "I just try to go out there and do my job to the best of my ability. I really just focus on whatever I have to do to help the team win the game."

He could have a larger role with Gronkowski at less than full strength. His high left ankle sprain could keep him from tacking on plenty of yards, as he often does, after catching passes.

Tom Brady certainly relies on Welker, whose 554 receptions since 2007 lead the NFL, 80 more than Brandon Marshall's second highest total.

"Wes Welker would make any quarterback better with his ability to get open and catch the ball," Brady said. "He's a very smart player who has a great feel for the game, who has a great feel for how to get open in man-to-man [coverage], where to find the spots in zone, great body language."

That body language and Welker's ability to confuse defensive backs are keys to his success. He also knows that reading what the safeties are doing is a key to how the defense will handle a play.

He usually lines up in the slot and tries to start his patterns the same way so a defender doesn't know what's coming.

Then the sure-handed receiver will plant his foot, cut sharply to the left or right or head downfield and latch onto Brady's pass after eluding a defender.

"I think you go off and react to what they do," Welker said. "However they decide to play you, you attack it."



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