Welker excited to begin OTAs today

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Welker excited to begin OTAs today

PEABODY -- He may not yet have the long-term deal he's been looking for, but it's clear Wes Welker is ready to move on from discussing publicly his contract negotiations.

When given the opportunity to talk football over the weekend at his Old Spice youth clinic, he beamed. It was a welcome respite from discussing dollars and cents and job-security. He smiled as he spoke about his teammates and about how excited he was to be on the field for the start of organized team activities, which began today.

Welker was especially eager to see some of his former Patriots teammates -- Jabar Gaffney and Donte' Stallworth -- back in New England.

"It's really cool," Welker said of their reunion. "I have a great relationship with all those guys. We've added some other guys into the mix as well. I'm excited to work with everybody and get everybody on the same page. We all work together out there. Everybody getting open, everybody being an option all the time. It really just helps out the team to become that much better and have that competitive atmosphere out there."

For Patriots receivers, the competition will start early. There are 12 receivers currently on the team's roster, including Welker, Gaffney, Stallworth, Brandon Lloyd, Deion Branch, Chad Ochocinco, Anthony Gonzalez and Julian Edelman. Though none have to worry about being cut during OTAs, they all know there will be only so many spots for pass-catchers on the active roster come Week 1 of the regular season.

"We got some great receivers coming in," Welker said. "It's going to be a lot of fun. A competitive atmosphere. A lot of guys that have been here and can really help us win ball games. I'm really looking forward to working with everybody."

That includes Welker's good friend Tom Brady. The two haven't yet worked out together during the offseason so they'll have a chance to rediscover their timing in OTAs.

"That's why these OTAs are important as well," Welker said. "Get on the same page with Brady and get that work in."

For Welker, the arrival of OTAs also means that he can finally get back to what he loves to do. It's part of the reason he signed his franchise tender early, thereby relinquishing any leverage he had in long-term contract negotiations; he couldn't picture himself not participating.

"I'm looking forward to moving forward and getting ready for the 2012 season," he said.

With that he left the middle of the media scrum, questions about his contract negotiations behind him -- at least temporarily. He and the team have until July 15 to negotiate a long-term deal.

PFT: Belichick can still diagram his dad’s Navy plays from 1959

PFT: Belichick can still diagram his dad’s Navy plays from 1959

CBS interviewed Patriots coach Bill Belichick and 1960 Heisman winner Joe Bellino from Navy as part of its Army-Navy Game coverage Saturday.

Belichick's father, Steve, was an assistant coach at Navy when Bellino played there, and little Bill, then 7, took it all in. So much so, that 57 years later, Belichick can still diagram the 27 F Trap play that his dad used to drew up in the 1959 season for Bellino.

More from NBC Sports' Pro Football Talk here.

 

Curran: To gauge Patriots' plans for Jimmy G, look to Brissett

Curran: To gauge Patriots' plans for Jimmy G, look to Brissett

When trying to figure out what the Patriots will ultimately do with Jimmy Garoppolo, forget about the speculation and instead focus on the little things the team does. 

Like how they are tending to Jacoby Brissett. 

After having thumb surgery on Oct. 7, Brissett was put on IR. But the team used its one "Get off of IR free card" on Brissett and he's been practicing with the team for the past couple of weeks while not taking up a roster spot. 

That alone isn't compelling evidence that he's the backup-in-waiting and Garoppolo's about to be packed up and shipped out, argued my compadre, Senator Phil Perry. The team had no other players on IR that they could use the designation on at the time. Why not use it on Brissett?

Prior to that, though, we've seen Brissett accompanying the team to away games including the cross-country junket to San Francisco. A reason? Since the Patriots played three straight at Gillette at the start of the season when Brissett was the direct backup to Garoppolo, he didn't get a good look at the road operation and the tempo of being the visiting team. How things work on flights, in meetings, at opposing stadiums and on the sidelines is worth getting a promising young players' eyes on. Also, getting his offensive teammates used to having him around is probably an even bigger benefit. It's not unprecedented to have IR players travel but its not conventional practice either. 

With so many quarterback-needy teams around the league, Garoppolo is perhaps the most attractive option out there. By the end of this year, he will have apprenticed three seasons behind the best quarterback of all-time in a sophisticated offense for a program that's as demanding as any in the league. In the 1 1/2 games he was able to play as a starter in place of Tom Brady, he was sensational.

He got hurt and that's not great. But any team making a deal for him that has concerns about his durability can take him for a spin for one season. Garoppolo is on the books for $825K in 2017 and then his contract is up. The team that dealt for him can franchise him if they need another season to think on it. 

I don't think the Patriots are itching to move Garoppolo. They know they are sitting comfortably with a stack of the most valuable commodity in the sport -- good quarterbacks (or at least one great one and two promising ones) - piled in front of them. They can let the game come to them. 

If it does, as former Patriots executive and Bill Belichick consigliere Mike Lombardi thinks it will, the Patriots can rest easy dealing Garoppolo knowing that they already did advance work getting Brissett up to speed.