Patriots

McDaniels: Welker's role 'is the same'

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McDaniels: Welker's role 'is the same'

To the notion that Wes Welker's playing time is being phased out -- he had just 3 catches for 14 yards Sunday against the Titans -- Josh McDaniels' response was pretty simple.
Sometimes receivers only get five targets. Yes, even Welker.
"Wes had some opportunities in the game and he tried to make the most of a few of those," New England's offensive coordinator said. "Then we had some other opportunities we didn't quite hit. Wes' role is the same as it's always gone."
"We go each week and try to do what we think is best to help us win. Sometimes that may include playing more multiple tight ends. Sometimes it may include playing a lot more receivers. We kind of try to feel that out as we go through our preparation and then make the decisions that go along with it."
McDaniels explained that the game plan changes every week. For each opponent there are different personnel groupings, which means varying numbers of snaps for each player. It all depends on the matchups and it's all decided on a case-by-case basis.
But maybe you like math and you hit the calculator on Welker. Three catches a night over 16 games . . . that puts Welker on pace for just 48 receptions in 2012. Surely, there must be some conspiracy at hand, considering this is a guy who had over 100 catches in five of the last six seasons.
Then you remember that Stevan Ridley had 21 carries in Tennessee. You remember, perhaps because Tom Curran noted it, that Aaron Hernandez was targeted just six times against the Titans when he saw more than eight a game over the last seven games of 2011. And then you think about Brandon Lloyd, Tom Brady's new downfield weapon, and how he and the quarterback are still trying to develop an on-field relationship where Brady and Welker are already solid.
Sometimes receivers only get five targets.
"I think balance, maintaining your balance, in really any portion of the game is important," said McDaniels. "On offense, if you're able to do more than one thing well and you're able to move the ball in different ways, it forces the defense to have to defend a lot of different things in your offense. You can't really settle into one thing and get comfortable with that."
"Our goal will always be to try to go in and maintain our balance unless we decide that the best thing to do would be to do something other than that. I know we've done that in certain games in the past, where we've made a conscious effort or a decision to do it in some other way. Right now, we did a decent job in Week 1 and hopefully we continue to be productive both in the running game and in the passing game."
And Welker, he'll be a part of it somehow.

Brady enjoying "unique experience" of road trip

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Brady enjoying "unique experience" of road trip

While being away from home isn’t uncommon for the Patriots - just think about all those Super Bowl trips - Tom Brady believes each excursion takes on it’s own feel, it’s own flavor and - eventually - it’s own meaning.

Back in 2014, the Pats went from playing in Green Bay and losing to the Packers straight to San Diego for a week on the West Coast prior to a rousing victory over the Chargers. That week, many players said in the aftermath, helped propel the team to great heights,.  You’ll recall, that season ended in grand fashion, a triumph in Super Bowl 49 over Seattle, at the time - and maybe still - the greatest Super Bowl ever played.

“I think all these experiences are pretty unique,” Brady said Friday from Falcon Stadium at the Air Force Academy. “That was a very unique experience. This is different.”

Brady spoke about the number of stops the Pats have and will have to make on this trip - from Denver to Colorado Springs then on to Mexico City Saturday before a Sunday night return to Foxboro and their own beds for the first time in 10 nights.

“When you’re on the road like this, there’s less to do,” he said. “You know my family is not here, my kids aren’t here. There’s nobody telling me what I did wrong in the house. It’s just being at home and now it’s being here and trying to figure out a way to win a game.”

Brady quickly smoothed over any possible ill-will at home - why make Gisele mad? - smiling and saying “I didn’t mean that so I’ll take it back.”

Kidding aside, the 40-year old signal caller seemed pleased with the work the Patriots have put in during this long trip. A week of team-bonding can’t be a bad thing, especially for a group that seems to be hitting it’s stride both on and off the field. There’s the five wins in a row and also a locker room that has a better understanding of one another than it did during the first month of the season. But Brady is not ready to make any grand proclamations. That just wouldn’t be his style.

“I think it’s still work in progress,” he said of team chemistry. “You look at still adding a player like Marty (Bennett) last week. Things are always changing and evolving. We’re still trying to figure out what we’re doing well and after 8 or 9 weeks, you start to figure those things out. Now we have to work hard at those things, try to really own them, and use them going forward to try and win the most important games. We have a lot of important games coming up, starting with this one. Hopefully we can play our best football going forward.”

Brady said he’s been fired up for this game with the Raiders south of the border ever since the schedule was released all those months ago.

“I’ve never been to Mexico City,” he said. “It’s been a game you kind of look forward to. We’re playing against a really good football team in a pretty cool environment. It will be very memorable. I think everyone is excited.”

Patriots’ injury report: Center Andrews, WR Hogan out

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Patriots’ injury report: Center Andrews, WR Hogan out

The Patriots will be without center David Andrews on Sunday when they play the Raiders in Mexico City. Andrews, who hasn’t all practice all week with an illness, is one of four Pats listed as out on the injury report released Friday.

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Offensive tackle Marcus Cannon, who didn’t play last week against the Broncos is also out, along with wide receiver Chris Hogan and special teams captain Matthew Slater. Offensive linemen Ted Karras and Joe Thuney each took reps at center so one of them will likely start in Andrews’ absence. LaAdrian Waddle filled in for Cannon and performed well last week vs. Denver. 

Here’s the full injury report for the Patriots and Raiders: