A lot is being made of Wes Welker's role with the New England Patriots.
Welker, who is playing under a one-year franchise tag after failing to work out a deal during the offseason, has eight catches for 109 yards through two games.
It does. Except last season, Welker had an NFL-high 122 catches for 1,569 yards. He had eight catches for 160 in the 2011 opener alone. He had 15 for 241 yards after two games.
This season, Welker has spent a lot of time on the bench in an offense that emphasizes two tight ends, including in a 20-18 loss to the Arizona Cardinals last week. Welker finally got on the field when tight end Aaron Hernandez got hurt.
Coach Bill Belichick was curt when asked about Welker's role and limited playing time and blew off questions earlier this week.
Quarterback Tom Brady is spreading the ball around to more targets. Now he has Brandon Lloyd in the mix. The Patriots also recently re-signed Deion Branch, who was among the final cuts before the season began.
The moves point to less Welker and more of everyone else.
"Last year we had some pretty good passing statistics to (Rob) Gronkowski and Hernandez and Welker and Branch," Brady said. "That's what good offensive football is -- not really jam it into one player -- but trying to find the open guy and make a good throws."
Just to be safe, the Ravens are assuming Welker will play a major role in Sunday's game.
"It has nothing to do with us whether he's there or not," Ravens cornerback Cary Williams said Friday. "We're still preparing the same way."
The Ravens will use a lot of nickel packages -- five defensive backs -- to combat the Patriots, who flood the field with receivers. Even without Welker being used as much, they attack in similar fashion.
"They haven't changed. That's part of their offense and something they do," Williams said. "They want to spread you out. That's fine. We're ready for that."