Welker: I still feel there's a lot of doubters

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Welker: I still feel there's a lot of doubters

By Mary Paoletti
CSNNE.com Staff Reporter Follow @mary_paoletti
It's hard to argue with numbers.

Or so they say. But it's not an expression Wes Welker is content to seek shade under.

I still feel like theres a lot of doubters that I cant do a lot of things on the field and that my value isnt as great as a lot of the other guys out there," he told CBSSports.com's Mark Morgan.

"Theres always something to prove and work on and get better at.

It's an interesting attitude for a wide receiver who's caught more than 100 passes in three of the last four seasons. Despite 86 catches and 848 yards last year, his averages in a Patriots uniform are impressive: 108 receptions, 1,134 yards and 5.5 touchdowns in 15.25 games.

Where Welker is confident, he's not content.

Im sure there are -- theres no doubt. ... Theyll always try to (argue the numbers).

So he trained. This offseason was the first since rehabbing his torn ACLMCL and Welker took advantage of his good health. Going into his fifth season with the Patriots he now says he's in the best shape of his life.

"I think just the amount of training I've been able to do. Not having to rehab and really just focusing in on this year and realizing that I need to be in the best shape possible. I think as you get older you get a little wiser in how to do that and what you need to do to accomplish that."

Welker's timing is good; this is his contract year. He'll make 2.5 million with the Patriots in 2011-12 before hitting free agency. When asked about his future, the wideout said he's focused on the year ahead, but confirmed a desire to stay put.

Of course I want to stay here. I love playing here," he said.

"I love the team type atmosphere that we have here in New England and I enjoy being around the guys and the type of work that everybody puts in collectively. It's what makes us go."

It's not surprising Tom Brady is high on Welker's list of Patriots 'Pros.' He credits some success to his quarterback, saying their relationship and on-field chemistry makes his job -- and racking up those numbers -- that much easier.

"He's the guy you want," Welker said of Brady. "He's definitely the dream quarterback in every way, shape and form for a receiver. We don't always see eye to eye... for the most part we do. We have a great relationship where we can talk about things. We'll get in something heated then we'll come to the side and say, 'Alright, what do we really think about this.'"

The duo will be on display Saturday in Detroit during New England's third preseason game, but Welker's eager to get back to regular season action. He gets the chance September 12 when the Patriots open against Miami -- the team that let him get away in 2007. That game -- every game -- presents an opportunity to prove he belongs in the elite class of NFL receivers.

And Welker is ready.

Mary Paoletti can be reached at mpaoletti@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

Rob Gronkowski appears to thoroughly enjoy himself at Daytona 500

Rob Gronkowski appears to thoroughly enjoy himself at Daytona 500

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski attended the Dayton 500 in true Gronkowski form.

He appeared to be there promoting Monster Energy drink, and was therefore hanging with the Monster Girls, who were also promoting the drink. Gronkowski's herniated disc injury, which required surgery in December 2016, does not seem to be slowing him down as he gets warmed up for the Summer of Gronk.

During the race coverage on FOX Sports, Gronk delivered a speed limit joke, which is sure to make the 13-year-old in you chuckle. (You can watch it here.)

[H/T NESN.com]

Curran: It's time to let the air out of Deflategate

Curran: It's time to let the air out of Deflategate

I think it’s time. Time to let the Deflategate wound scab over. Time to exit the active, raging, teeth-gnashing, petition-signing, lawsuit-filing portion of the program and let the hate follow its natural course into a slow-boil loathing.

If you are of Irish descent, you know how it works. Clear a big-ass space on the grudge shelf. Put Roger Goodell, Jeff Pash, Mike Kensil, Troy Vincent, Ryan Grigson, Jim Irsay, every shiv-wielding owner, all the cluck-clucking media and the legion of retired players and exiled GMs from Marshall Faulk to Joey Porter through Marty Hurney and into Bill Polian up there. Turn off light. Leave room.

When you need to piss yourself off -- in traffic, mowing the lawn, waiting for your coffee -- fetch ‘em down, blow the dust off and when you’re in a sufficiently foul mood, return grudge to shelf.

You rode the roller coaster. You’ve been there, done that and have all the T-shirts.

I came to this conclusion a few days ago, when ESPN’s Cari Champion interviewed Rob Gronkowski and asked about Goodell visiting Gillette. It was like playing “Get the Stick!” with a big goofy Lab. Champion threw the leading question, Gronk fetched -- tail-wagging --  and returned with a slobbery response that was completely implausible but still designed to dominate a four-hour news cycle.

"The fans are nuts, they’re wild, and they have the Patriots’ back no matter what,” said Gronkowski. “They have [Tom Brady’s] back. I’m telling you, he won’t get through the highway if the fans saw him. I don’t even think he can even land in the airport in Boston because Patriot fans are the best fans, they’re the most loyal fans. I’m telling you, they might just carry out Roger themselves. They couldn’t even get to the stadium in Foxboro if he landed in Boston."

Gronk’s just doing what he thinks he’s supposed to do. And Champion is, too. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel.

Watch these mooks up in New England get all pissed off: “Hey, hey, Chowderhead . . . Roger Goodell . . . . ”

“F*** that guy, he better never show his face in Foxboro! But I want him to come to Foxboro so I can boo the ever-living s*** out of him and maybe barricade Route 1 like Gronk said we would!”

See? Works every time.

The irony is that the person mainly responsible for turning up the burner on this is Robert Kraft.

In May 2015, Kraft said at the owners meetings in San Francisco, “I don’t want to continue the rhetoric that’s gone on for the last four months. I’m going to accept, reluctantly, what he has given to us, and not continue this dialogue and rhetoric, and we won’t appeal.

“Now, I know that a lot of Patriots fans are going to be disappointed in that decision, but I hope they trust my judgment and know that I really feel at this point in time that taking this off the agenda, this is the best thing for the New England Patriots, our fans, and the NFL, and I hope you all can respect that.”

Well, that blew up like an ACME bomb. And -- from that moment on -- Kraft has tried to recoup the fanbase that believed he sold them out by issuing a succession of calls-to-arms that the region has dutifully responded to.

The most recent was throwing down the gauntlet to Goodell by expressly inviting him to the 2017 season opener.  I mean, it would have been a conversation point anyway, but now it’s metastasized into something that will be discussed throughout the offseason, ratcheting up in early September and hitting a crescendo on opening night.

There is appeal to seeing Goodell squirm while knowing the Maras, Rooneys and Irsays will be sipping highballs and lamenting the caddish treatment of Poor Roger. But I still like the football better.

Conversation about the historic import of SB51, the legacy of Brady and Belichick, prospects for the league in 2017? I’ll take those rather than an ESPN “personality” who spent a weekend in Newburyport at a friend’s wedding telling everyone what the mindset of the New England sports fan is.  

But that’s not what we’re going to get. There will instead be ever-escalating predictions of the terrors Goodell will be subjected to fueled by interviews with tatted-up kids from the mean streets of Marshfield who wanted “Hoodie” fired when he let Revis sign with the Jets.

Unless . . . unless the region en masse decides to let its loathing mature. Mature to the point that when the carrot gets dangled in its collective face it doesn’t leap at it with teeth bared but instead says, “No thanks. Already full.”

Yeah. I don’t think it’s gonna happen either.