Welker hoping to be happier after Houston rematch


Welker hoping to be happier after Houston rematch

FOXBORO -- Wes Welker probably has some ugly memories from the last time New England played the Texans. 
It's not the fact that his team lost that game, the 2009 regular-season finale. No, it's that Welker tore both the ACL and MCL in his left knee that day. 
This Friday, he was prompted to remember.
"I try not to think about it too much. I appreciate you bringing that up," he said sardonically. "But I've just moved on from it, and worked hard to get better, and luckily I am where I'm at today."
Welker's production in New England -- both before and after the injury -- is remarkable. 
He's led the league in receiving three different times since joining the Patriots in 2007. With eight more catches in 2012, he'll become the first receiver in NFL history to have 100 or more in five seasons.
Can he appreciate the milestone upon approach? Not really.
"Maybe when I'm done," Welker guessed. "Right now I'm just focused on however many catches I need to get to help us win. Whatever that is is what it is.
"I'm really just trying to move forward. I don't really think about the past all that much. What's done is done. We just continue to get better and try to win."
When the Patriots take on Houston this time, they will already be dealing with not one, but two significant injuries to the receiving corps: Tight end Rob Gronkowski, who suffered a broken forearm November 18 against the Colts, and Julian Edelman, who left last week's Miami game because of a season-ending foot fracture. 
New England has since re-signed Donte' Stallworth, but the weight on Welker's shoulders could still be heavier than usual. Whereas he averaged 9.25 targets through the first four games of the season, he's gotten 12.5 through the last four. 
He doesn't worry about the way the numbers rise and fall. Welker's concern is that when quarterback Tom Brady needs a target, somebody is there. 
"I think it puts pressure on everybody. Everybody has to come out, everybody has to step up and come out and play the way we need to to win the game."
A victory against Houston, whether with two catches or 10, is all Welker wants this week. 
It would certainly make for better memories. 

Stars, studs and duds: Stevens shows confidence in Brown


Stars, studs and duds: Stevens shows confidence in Brown

Jaylen Brown made a costly turnover in the final minute that contributed to Boston’s 105-99 loss to the Chicago Bulls.

The fact that he was even in the game at that point speaks to not just his potential, but the level of confidence the rookie has already garnered from the Boston Celtics coaching staff.

Brown, who had nine points on 4-for-7 shooting on Thursday, turned the ball over with less than a minute to play and the Celtics trailing 101-99 at the time.

Moments after the turnover, Chicago’s Dwyane Wade drained a step-back 3-pointer that sealed the Bulls’ victory.

Disappointed with the game’s outcome, Brown acknowledged that it meant a lot to him for Stevens to have enough confidence in him to keep him on the floor down the stretch.

But with that faith comes added pressure for Brown to come through and deliver.

“It means I have to do better and try and execute for my team and earn everything I get,” Brown told reporters after the game. “I don’t want anything given to me just because I’m the number three pick in the draft.”

Stevens was asked about having Brown on the floor in the game’s closing seconds.

“He (Brown) was playing pretty well and I thought we were better off playing small,” Stevens said. “I wanted to keep Jaylen in there. I thought he did a lot of good things tonight.”

“Obviously that play didn’t go his way,” Stevens said.

On the play in question, Brown was matched up with Chicago’s Nikola Mirotic. Brown began to make a move, and eventually spun away from Mirotic and left his feet.

Brown was called for the turnover when he left his feet to make a pass, but didn’t release the ball until after he had landed – a traveling violation.

“I was looking for an outlet,” said Brown in explaining his late-game miscue. “I should have just shot the ball but I was thinking it was a bad shot. I probably should have just shot it. I just saw Mirotic on me, slower feet. Coach (Stevens) told me to drive him so I tried to be aggressive. I should have made a play.”

Brown added, “Just have to come out and execute, and play the game the right way. I want to make coach feel like he has a reason to put me out on the floor.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Thursday night’s game.



Dwyane Wade

The Chicago native gave his family and friends plenty to cheer about on Thursday. In his first game playing for his hometown Chicago Bulls, Wade had 22 points which included a back-breaking 3-pointer with 26 seconds to play that pretty much sealed the Bulls victory. Consider this: He made a total of seven 3-pointers all last season. He had four on Thursday.

Isaiah Thomas

For the second straight game, Thomas tallied 25 points and continued to shoot the ball extremely well. His 25 points on Thursday came on 10-for-15 shooting. He also had four assists and three rebounds.

Jimmy Butler

Butler was among the Chicago players who shot the ball much, much better from 3-point range than they usually do. He finished with a team-high 24 points which included him knocking down four of his six 3-point attempts.



Avery Bradley

Bradley provided a nice offensive complement to Thomas’ high scoring night, finishing with 16 points on 6-for-12 shooting. Bradley also made his presence felt on the boards and as a distributor with six rebounds and five assists.

Nikola Mirotic

He may have lost out on a starting job to Taj Gibson, but Mirotic’s value to the Bulls is clear. Mirotic had 15 points off the bench, shooting 6-for-11 from the field in addition to nine rebounds.



Second-chance points

Boston’s only two games into the season, but second-chance points looks to be an issue with no clear-cut solution. For the second straight game, Boston was outscored by double digits in second-chance points. On Thursday, Chicago had an 18-5 advantage in second-chance points.