BOSTON -- Wes Welker has been keeping up with his old team. He's a competitor now, in his second year as a Texans offensive and special teams assistant, but he's aware of what's happening with the Patriots.
He's aware that his buddy Tom Brady, the guy who threw Welker well over 800 passes in five seasons, opted not to take part in the voluntary workouts held at Gillette Stadium this spring.
And even though Welker is now a coach, even though one would assume all coaches carry the belief that all players should show up to all workouts whenever possible, he believes it wasn't a big deal for Brady to skip that which wasn't mandatory.
In fact, Welker believes Brady's absence may have actually benefitted the Patriots in some ways.
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"He's got a family," Welker said Tuesday at the Leonard Hair Transplant Associates media day at the Battery Wharf Hotel. "He's got a wife who wants to take the family on vacation.
"What are you really teaching Tom Brady at this point? And, you know, if you're worried about him getting on the same page with the receivers, that's really why you would have coaches. The coaches are really able to emphasize with those guys what they want them to do.
It's a really good opportunity for those guys to play together without Tom and kind of figure it out."
Welker's insistence that spring workouts may not help Brady all that much is hard to argue. Brady is going into his 41-year-old season. He knows the offense. He's long been maniacal about keeping himself in good physical condition.
But because the entire Patriots organization has long touted spring work as critical -- as a time to lay the foundation for the rest of the year -- it's hard to believe that what happens in the spring is now gravy.
And for a player like Brady, who knows enough to be an effective teacher during what is commonly referred to as a "teaching camp," it would make sense that his presence at spring practices would be beneficial to others even if he personally doesn't gain much from it.
Welker, though, insisted. Brady's absence may have helped the players he'll be throwing to next week when training camp begins.
"I personally think so," he said. "It's got to get figured out somehow, and it can't always be him doing it."