Welker makes a funny

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Welker makes a funny

And just like that, Wes Welker is second in the NFL in receptions. He's seventh in total targets (only five out of second place). He's once again established himself as Tom Brady's favorite receiver and helped restore order to the Patriots offense.

Then he did this, and in the process turned that entire first paragraph into a secondary storyline on this Monday afternoon.

I know a lot of people out there are angry that Welker's quote "Yeah, it's kind of nice to stick it in Bill's face once in a while." is a story at all. They think that this post, and everything like it is just "media generated nonsense," "an insult to journalism" and every other complaint that we hear every time something like this makes headlines.

And there's some validity to that.

Obviously, if Welker had said what he said last night, and then no one in the media mentioned it again, there wouldn't be an issue. But come on, that's not reality. You know that. And more importantly, Welker knows that. When he makes a joke at his coach's expense especially after all that's happened between them over the first month of the season he knows what's going to happen. He's well aware that the media will run with it, strangle it and beat it into the ground until another storyline presents itself.

But who cares about the media, the bigger question is: What does Belichick think?

Naturally, he was asked about the comments during today's press conference, and as he was, part of me hoped that the coach would just shrug it off. It's rare that Belichick shows his sense of humor during the season, but he's know to deliver a good jab. And this was the perfect opportunity:

"Hey, coach. Any comment on what Wes said last night on TV?"

"Yeah, yeah. I saw it. He might want to go back and have those hair plugs loosened. I think it's cutting off the circulation to his brain."

Everyone would have laughed. We all could have moved on.

Instead, Belichick claimed that he didn't "really see the comment," and then added the dreaded: "You should ask him what he meant by it."

That's Belispeak for: "I know exactly what you're talking about, but you're crazy if you think I'm sharing my thoughts with you guys. Why don't you go ask Wes, I've already instructed him how to answer."

And here's hoping Welker follows orders, there are no further disciplinary actions and this whole story flies away. There's too much other positive Welker conversation that should be occupying our attention.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Van Noy sees playing-time bump as he learns Patriots language

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Van Noy sees playing-time bump as he learns Patriots language

When Kyle Van Noy was traded to the Patriots in late October, he had a lot to learn. He needed to understand the layout of his new team's maze-like facility. He needed to adjust to a new locker room. He needed to adapt to a new home. 

He also had to become fluent in a new language.

The former Lions 'backer was inactive for two weeks before he was comfortable enough with the Patriots system -- and the coaching staff was comfortable enough with him -- to get on the field. He played 29 snaps against the Niners in first game with his new club, then saw 28 plays against the Jets. On Sunday he saw his role expand as he played 40 of a possible 51 plays, which was more than Shea McClellin (38) or Dont'a Hightower (33). 

"Kyle has done a great job of working really hard to acclimate to what we’re doing, and he has had to learn really fast as far as the system, the communication, the language," said defensive coordinator Matt Patricia on a conference call Tuesday. "It’s like when you go to a different system, offensively or defensively, a lot of times it’s just learning the vernacular and the verbiage . . . That’s a big part of it. Then getting more familiar with that kind of terminology and the communication is critical because there’s a lot of calls and adjustments, things like that that we’ve got to do on the field."

Van Noy was making some of those calls himself on Sunday as he wore the green dot on his helmet when Hightower was on the sidelines. Even with the added responsibility, Van Noy was able to play freely enough that he put together what might have been the best game of his three-year career. 

Used at the end of the line of scrimmage as well as in a more traditional off-the-line linebacker role, Van Noy was effective in defending both the pass and the run: He stuffed three Rams rush attempts, he recorded a quarterback hit that led to an incompletion, he drew a holding call, and he recorded an athletic interception when he tracked a wobbling Jared Goff pass that floated over the middle after Jabaal Sheard hit Goff's arm as the rookie released his throw.

After several of his stand-out plays, Van Noy was visibly excited on the field and later on the sidelines. It was the culmination of six weeks of work, learning as much as he could from a coaching staff that was eager to teach him. 

"He’s extremely prideful in his work and his approach to the game," Patricia said. "He’s very cerebral. He’ll ask a lot of questions. He really wants to understand what we’re doing and why, which is great. We’re trying to give him those answers and insight into kind of where some of this either came from or developed or situations like that so that’s really good."