Welker: Can't take this for granted

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Welker: Can't take this for granted

FOXBORO -- The last time the Patriots played the Baltimore Ravens in the playoffs, Wes Welker was watching the game from the owner's box after tearing his ACL and MCL in the regular-season finale against the Houston Texans.

That game ended in a Patriots loss. And two years later, the Ravens are coming back to town for another playoff game. This time, it's for the AFC Championship.

"That was then, and this is a whole new year, a whole new team, it's a whole new everything," said Welker at Gillette Stadium on Monday.

"It's always tough when your team's out there playing and you're not able to. Especially in the playoffs. We had such a good year that year, and I wanted to be out there to help my team. I'm just glad it's behind me. I'm glad it's over, and glad I'm in the position I'm in to be able to play in this game, and hopefully make the most of my opportunity."

It's an opportunity that Welker figured he'd have every year after making the Super Bowl with an undefeated record in 2007-08.

"After that '07 year, I thought we'd be going to the Super Bowl just about every year," said Welker. "And that's just not the way it works. It's hard to get to a position like this, and you definitely have to take full advantage of it, and not take it for granted."

The Patriots are now one win away from getting back to the Super Bowl, and Welker knows the Patriots' offense will have their work cut out for them against what he called an "attacking" defense that features safety Ed Reed.

"His range, the great player that he is, he's been for so long," said Welker of Reed. "The big interception at a critical point in the game that he had this last week. Anytime you have a guy back there like him, you're always wary of throwing the ball deep and letting the ball hang in the air too much. He's a phenomenal player and he'll make you pay for it."

Welker hasn't been relied upon as heavily with the emergence of the tight end duo of Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski. But as always, Welker will be ready for the day in which opposing defenses focus solely on those two players, allowing him to potentially have a big day.

"At some point, defenses are going to realize just how good Hernandez and Gronkowski are," said Welker. "And it's definitely going to open up things for me, and vice versa, and everything else."