Welker unfazed by Giants' trash talk

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Welker unfazed by Giants' trash talk

FOXBORO -- It doesn't matter to Wes Welker that the Giants secondary says it believes it can "handle" him. It doesn't matter that they said the Steelers kicked the Patriots' butts -- and basically shut Welker down -- without doing anything "spectacular."

For Welker, eight years in the league (five with the Patriots) have conditioned him not to get riled up at verbal bombs fired from opposing locker rooms.

"Really, I could care less," Welker said in response to the Giants comments on Thursday. "I'm focused on winning the game. At this point, you hear it all. You just don't worry about it. You move on and get ready for the game."

Yesterday, Giants cornerback Antrel Rolle called Welker a "monster elite receiver," but proceeded to explain, with confidence, how he and his teammates would shut down the monster.

"I handle anything," Rolle said. "Im up for all challenges. At the end of the day, its may the best man win."

Rolle also said he doesn't "plan on having to answer those questions" that defensive backs usually hear after Welker has gashed them on Sundays.

"I'm really not too worried about it," Welker responded. "I'm just trying to study them up on film and get ready for them and do everything possible to win on Sunday. That's where my focus is."

Though Rolle's comments may seem a bit crazy -- Welker is the leading receiver (57 catches, 824 yards, 6 touchdowns) on the second-best passing offense in the league (324.7 yards per game) -- but teams have been figuring out ways to slow down Brady's favorite target, and it's clear the Giants think they can do the same.

In his last two games, Welker has averaged 6.0 catches for 42.0 yards. Not bad, but well off of the pace he was on to start the season as he averaged 148.0 yards per game through five games.

Welker said he has seen more man coverage in the last two weeks than he had previously, and he intimated that teams had become more physical with him at the line of scrimmage.

"Guys getting in your face, grabbing, doing whatever they need to do," said Welker of how he's been defended lately. "You have to understand that and do business as business is being done, be physical and get open. That's what it comes down to."

The Steelers were physical with him after the catch, too. Troy Polamalu almost turned Welker into a bobblehead as he twisted Welker's noggin to an unnatural degree during a tackle last Sunday. Predictably, Welker was limited in practice this week with a neck injury.

"Any time you're playing a game in the National Football League, you're gonna have your bumps and bruises," Welker said. "Some things take longer, some things take less. You just gotta kind of monitor it and move on."

The Patriots hope Welker can move on production-wise against the Giants. If he can avoid getting beat up, there's a chance he could make the Giants secondary look as crazy as it sounded earlier in the week.

Report: Garoppolo to start tonight vs. Panthers

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Report: Garoppolo to start tonight vs. Panthers

Jimmy Garoppolo will start at quarterback for the Patriots and Tom Brady will come off the bench tonight in their preseason game against the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte, ESPN's Mike Reiss reported.

For more on the game, here’s five things to watch from CSN Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran and five Patriots who can help themselves tonight from Phil Perry.

 

Foster playing catch-up, could help his cause vs. Panthers

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Foster playing catch-up, could help his cause vs. Panthers

FOXBORO -- When DJ Foster took the field for Patriots OTAs, he looked as advertised: quick, a crisp route-runner, and the owner of a pair of dependable hands. But that was back when players wore shorts to every practice. Since then, the undrafted rookie running back out of Arizona State hasn't had the opportunity to do much other than work on his conditioning while the majority of his teammates practiced. 

That could soon change. Though Foster has dealt with what he calls a "nagging" injury throughout much of training camp, he felt well enough this week to return to practice, and on Friday night he is likely to see preseason game action for the first time this summer.

The reason Foster's preseason debut could carry some importance is that he happens to play a position that may qualify as the thinnest on the Patriots roster right now. Because sub back extraordinaire Dion Lewis will not be healthy enough to start the season, and because coach Bill Belichick opted to part ways with veteran Donald Brown recently, the team is low on numbers in their running back room.

If Foster can capitalize on the opportunities he's given, he may make a case for a roster spot. James White, who is expected to be Lewis' primary replacement, is the other lone true sub back on the roster. Brandon Bolden can fill in at that role on an emergency basis, and Tyler Gaffney has shown he can catch the football when asked, but neither has the kind of pass-catching upside of Foster, who played receiver for the Sun Devils as a senior and racked up 222 receptions during his four-year college career. 

Foster has only so much time to prove he's worthy of a job. The Patriots have to reduce their numbers to 75 by Aug. 30. They need to be down to 53 by Sep. 3. Foster could be a tantalizing prospect to stash on the practice squad, but surely he'd like to make a push for a greater role. 

He explained this week that, despite his recent physical limitations, he won't be holding back whenever he does get a chance to prove himelf. 

"The coaches do a great job at just kind of making sure I'm OK and stuff," he said. "For me, when I'm in there, do what I can, give everything I got -- every rep, every chance I get with the reps. Stay in the playbook, stay involved in the meetings, and just try to learn as much as I can. Whenever I do get an opportunity, go out there and make the most of it."

Against the Panthers, the Patriots coaching staff will have to balance the need to evaluate players like Foster against good competition versus getting the entire team ready for Week 1. For example, they'd like to get a good look at Foster, whose practice reps were next to nil before this week. They'd also probably like to get White as many reps as possible so that he's prepared for the Cardinals. 

Who should play when? And how many snaps do they need? 

"You can’t see D.J. Foster play in this league. You have Arizona State film but that’s all you have, and some of the spring work that he did which is obviously encouraging," Belichick said earlier this week. "We still have him, but there’s just no body of work. Donald Brown, you can see Donald Brown . . . Players like D.J., it’s hard. You don’t have much to go on. But maybe he’ll be able to do more. We’ll get an evaluation of him soon, hopefully."

Friday night could be the night.