Welker unfazed by Giants' trash talk


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.

NFLPA tells rookies to be like Rob Gronkowski

NFLPA tells rookies to be like Rob Gronkowski

Rob Gronkowski is a model citizen in the NFL. In fact, the NFL Players Association is advising rookies to be more like Gronk, according to The Boston Globe

The New England Patriots tight end has developed a name for himself on and off the football field. With that attention comes branding. And at the NFLPA Rookie Premiere from May 18 to 20, the NFLPA encouraged rookies to develop their own brand -- much like Gronkowski.

“Some people think he’s just this extension of a frat boy, and that it’s sort of accidental,” Ahmad Nassar said, via The Globe. Nassar is the president of NFL Players Inc., the for-profit subsidiary of the NFLPA. “And that’s wrong. It’s not accidental, it’s very purposeful. So the message there is, really good branding is where you don’t even feel it. You think, ‘Oh, that’s just Gronk being Gronk.’ Actually, that’s his brand, but it’s so good and so ingrained and so authentic, you don’t even know it’s a brand or think it.”

Gronkowski's "Summer of Gronk" has indirectly become one of his streams of income. The tight end makes appearances for magazines and sponsors. Because of his earnings from branding and endorsements, he didn't touch his NFL salary during the early years of his career.

Gronk was one of three players who were the topics of discussion during the symposium. Dak Prescott and Odell Beckham were also used as examples of players who have been able to generate additional income from endorsements. Beckham, in particular, has been in the spotlight off the football field. He's appeared on the cover of Madden, and just signed a deal with NIke which is reportedly worth $25 million over five years with upwards of $48 million over eight years. His deal, which is a record for an NFL player, will pay him more than his contract with the Giants.

“A lot of people talk to the players about, ‘You should be careful with your money and you should treat your family this way and you should treat your girlfriend or your wife.’ Which is fine. I think that’s valuable,” Nassar said, via The Globe. “But we don’t often give them a chance to answer the question: How do you see yourself as a brand? Because Gronk, Odell, none of those guys accidentally ended up where they are from a branding and marketing standpoint.”

Tom Brady delivers video message at funeral of Navy SEAL

Tom Brady delivers video message at funeral of Navy SEAL

Tom Brady delivered a video message last week at the funeral of Navy SEAL Kyle Milliken, a Maine native and former UConn track athlete killed in Somalia on May 5.

Bill Speros of The Boston Herald, in a column this Memorial Day weekend, wrote about Milliken and Brady's message.   

Milliken ran track at Cheverus High School in Falmouth, Maine, and at UConn, where he graduated in 2001. Milliken lived in Virginia Beach, Va., with his wife, Erin, and two children.  He other Navy SEALs participated in a training exercise at Gillette Stadium in 2011 where he met and posed for pictures with Brady.

Speros wrote that at Milliken’s funeral in Virginia Beach, Va., Brady's video offered condolences and thanked Milliken’s family for its sacrifice and spoke of how Milliken was considered a “glue guy” by UConn track coach Greg Roy.

Milliken had served in Iraq and Afghanistan, earning four Bronze Star Medals and was based in Virginia since 2004.  He was killed in a nighttime firefight with Al-Shabaab militants near Barij, about 40 miles from the Somali capital of Mogadishu. He was 38.

The Pentagon said Milliken was the first American serviceman killed in combat in Somalia since the "Black Hawk Down" battle that killed 18 Americans in 1993. 

In a statement to the Herald, Patriots owner Robert Kraft said: “It was an honor to host Kyle and his team for an exercise at Gillette Stadium in 2011. It gave new meaning to the stadium being known as home of the Patriots. We were deeply saddened to hear of Kyle’s death earlier this month.

“As Memorial Day weekend approaches, we are reminded of the sacrifices made by patriots like Kyle and so many others who have made the ultimate sacrifice to defend and protect our rights as Americans. Our thoughts, prayers and heartfelt appreciation are extended to the Milliken family and the many families who will be remembering lives lost this Memorial Day weekend.”