No huddle: Brady on Welker, fullbacks & a fuzzy first game

No huddle: Brady on Welker, fullbacks & a fuzzy first game

By Mary Paoletti Staff Reporter Follow @mary_paoletti

FOXBORO -- Tom Brady's 1,327 passing yards in three games is an NFL record.

He should send a thank you note to Wes Welker.

Welker has long been one of Brady's favorite targets and this season is no exception. The receiver has 458 receiving yards and four touchdowns in Weeks 1 through 3. His performance against Buffalo was tremendous: 217 yards (a career and franchise record), 16 catches (a personal record and tie for the Patriots' best with Troy Brown) and two TDs.

"He's just a great player," Brady said Wednesday. "And he's been that way since the day he got here. He had a great game last week in an individual effort that made some incredible plays. And he always seems to do that. In Miami he did the same thing. He's done that in practice every day, every day in training camp -- he never missed a day. He's just a tough, hard-nosed football player."

Brady said Welker's entrance the league as an undrafted free agent drives him to do more, be better.

"You can never underestimate someone that's worked the way that he's had to work, because he hasn't had all the opportunities, that maybe a lot of other guys have had early in his career. And he realizes that and he still works as hard today as he's ever worked. I love being out there with him. He's a great teammate, he's an incredible player, receiver, leader on this team. Team's are always trying to find ways to take Wes away."

'Try' is the operative word. Arguably, the most impressive quality about Welker's game is his consistent ability to get open. This is his fifth season as a Patriot and a starter, but he's never been listed as active and gone catchless in a game.

Brady remains impressed

"Different guys create different separation different ways. Wes uses his quickness a lot of the time and you see he gets a lot of separation because he's so good getting in and out of his breaks.

"Taller guys, some don't get as good of horizontal separation because their vertical length and their catch radius...they could be open even if the DB is a lot closer. Wes doesn't have that so he's got to be open. He's got to get separation. And he does that. That's what his quickness really allows him to be able to do."

Brady had plenty more to say on non-Welker topics.

HEARD THE PATRIOTS WORKED OUT TWO FULLBACKS THIS WEEK. DO YOU MISS HAVING A TRADITIONAL FB ON THE ROSTER? "We have different guys that kind of play that similar role. There's not necessarily a fullback on the roster, but the things that some teams would ask a fullback to do, we ask of the different tight end variations that we have. Different guys do different things well, so in this situation we just...don't have a fullback."
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR FIRST THREE GAMES WITH CHAD OCHOCINCO? "It's been three games for all of us together. In this offense: Chad, Wes, Deion... all of us in this receiverquarterback combination, we're trying to do better each week. We're trying to make improvements each week. We're not where we need to be, we're not where we're going to be.

"We're going to keep working hard at it and we're going to try to make some improvements. That's for myself, that's for every position on the team. As long as we show up and work hard every day and have confidence that we're going to get better, We're going to try to get better within the system of what coach's is asking us to do."

DOES COMING OFF THE LOSS TO BUFFALO GIVE YOU ADDED MOTIVATION FOR THE WEEK AHEAD? "I think we always prepare pretty hard. We aren't doing anything extra special this week. I think we, like every week, identify problems that were a problem, we see things that we did well, try to eliminate some of the problems and understand what it takes to win these games.

"When you look at the different opponent that you're facing, you have a different game plan, you go out there and you try to attack them in a different way and everybody's really got to get up to speed on what we're trying to do there. We're preparing pretty much like we always prepare."

THE 10-YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF YOUR FIRST NFL START IS COMING UP. HOW ABOUT THAT? "I don't even remember. That was a long time ago... God. Yeah, I don't even remember."

YOU WON BIG. "Yeah, we beat the Chargers...."

...IT WAS THE COLTS. "Was it the Colts? God, see?"


YES, YOU DID. "I got to watch that game again."

Mary Paoletti can be reached at Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

Wilfork on Body Issue: 'Looking forward to what the locker room's going to say'


Wilfork on Body Issue: 'Looking forward to what the locker room's going to say'

ESPN The Magazine's Body Issue won't hit newsstands until July 8, but Vince Wilfork gave people a not-so-little preview of what to expect this week.

The former Patriots defensive lineman, who is listed at 325 pounds but said he's weighed as much as 350 pounds, sat down for an interview about his size that landed on on Thursday.

"I just think it's a good idea for people that are bigger-boned," Wilfork said when asked why he posed nude for the Body Issue. "If people can look at me, a guy that's 325-plus, doing an issue like this, I'm pretty sure that they might have a little confidence.

"There will be critics, just like with everything else. I think a lot of people will get a laugh out of it, I'll tell you that. I'm looking forward to what the locker room's going to say. But at the end of the day, I'm perfectly fine with who I am as a person and what I have accomplished. It shows a lot of my personality."

You can read the full interview here, as well as watch a video that shows Wilfork in all his modeling glory.

Brady, Gronkowski make Top 10 of NFL Network's Top 100


Brady, Gronkowski make Top 10 of NFL Network's Top 100

Ask a football fan in New England, and he or she might tell you that Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski are the top two players in the NFL. A random NFL player might not be as generous, but on balance, Brady and Gronkowski's peers consider the Patriots stars to be among the top 10 talents in the league. 

The NFL Network announced the final 10 players to be included in their annual Top 100 list, a list voted on by players, and both Brady and Gronkowski made the cut.

The order of the top 10 has been determined, but has not yet been announced. Brady and Gronkowski are in the running for No. 1 alongside Odell Beckham Jr., Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, Luke Kuechly, Cam Newton, Adrian Peterson, Aaron Rodgers and JJ Watt. 

The weekly series, which has counted down Nos. 100-11, will end on Wednesday, July 6 with two, one-hour episodes on NFL Network at 8 and 9 p.m. Highlights of each player will be featured, as will interviews with some of their teammates and competitors. 

"He plays with a chip on his shoulder he’s always had," Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins said of Brady, "that really separates him."

Of Rob Gronkowski, Texans corner Charles James II said, "He's a glitch on Madden."

The only other Patriots players included in the Top 100 were Julian Edelman (who came in at No. 87) and Chandler Jones (No. 48). Jones, now a member of the Cardinals, was the only Patriots defender involved. 

Corner Malcolm Butler, linebackers Jamie Collins and Dont'a Hightower and safety Devin McCourty all had an argument to be included but were left off. contributors Gregg Rosenthal, Chris Wesseling, Maurice Jones-Drew and Ike Taylor put together their own individual Top 100 lists to supplement the one voted on by current players. Rosenthal included Collins (No. 64), McCourty (No. 73) and Butler (No. 99) in addition to Edelman (No. 84). Wesseling included Collins (No. 43), McCourty (No. 88) and Hightower (No. 91), but not Edelman. Jones-Drew included both Edelman (No. 62) and Butler (No. 95). Taylor included only Edelman (No. 89).