Welker: Can't take this for granted

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Welker: Can't take this for granted

FOXBORO -- The last time the Patriots played the Baltimore Ravens in the playoffs, Wes Welker was watching the game from the owner's box after tearing his ACL and MCL in the regular-season finale against the Houston Texans.

That game ended in a Patriots loss. And two years later, the Ravens are coming back to town for another playoff game. This time, it's for the AFC Championship.

"That was then, and this is a whole new year, a whole new team, it's a whole new everything," said Welker at Gillette Stadium on Monday.

"It's always tough when your team's out there playing and you're not able to. Especially in the playoffs. We had such a good year that year, and I wanted to be out there to help my team. I'm just glad it's behind me. I'm glad it's over, and glad I'm in the position I'm in to be able to play in this game, and hopefully make the most of my opportunity."

It's an opportunity that Welker figured he'd have every year after making the Super Bowl with an undefeated record in 2007-08.

"After that '07 year, I thought we'd be going to the Super Bowl just about every year," said Welker. "And that's just not the way it works. It's hard to get to a position like this, and you definitely have to take full advantage of it, and not take it for granted."

The Patriots are now one win away from getting back to the Super Bowl, and Welker knows the Patriots' offense will have their work cut out for them against what he called an "attacking" defense that features safety Ed Reed.

"His range, the great player that he is, he's been for so long," said Welker of Reed. "The big interception at a critical point in the game that he had this last week. Anytime you have a guy back there like him, you're always wary of throwing the ball deep and letting the ball hang in the air too much. He's a phenomenal player and he'll make you pay for it."

Welker hasn't been relied upon as heavily with the emergence of the tight end duo of Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski. But as always, Welker will be ready for the day in which opposing defenses focus solely on those two players, allowing him to potentially have a big day.

"At some point, defenses are going to realize just how good Hernandez and Gronkowski are," said Welker. "And it's definitely going to open up things for me, and vice versa, and everything else."

Halftime stars, studs and duds: LeBron in foul trouble

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Halftime stars, studs and duds: LeBron in foul trouble

CLEVELAND – Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half of Game 4 between Boston and Cleveland in which the Celtics have a 57-47 halftime lead.

 

STARS

Avery Bradley

His aggressiveness at both ends of the floor has been key to Boston’s strong first half showing. He has 13 points on 5-for-13 shooting.

Kyrie Irving

With LeBron James in major foul trouble – he had four personal fouls in the first half – Irving was charged with picking up the slack, scoring 12 of his 18 points in the second quarter.

 

STUDS

Jae Crowder

He had the hot hand at the start of the game, and has been solid at both ends of the floor. He had 13 points on 4-for-5 shooting with four rebounds and three assists.

Kevin Love

He continues to get great looks from 3-point range, but the Celtics did a better job of limiting his long-range scoring opportunities. He had 10 points along with seven rebounds and three assists.

Kelly Olynyk

Making his first-ever playoff start, Olynyk had a solid half with eight points, four rebounds and three assists.

 

DUDS

LeBron James

He was 5-for-9 from the field with 10 points in the first half, but spent a large chunk on the bench after being whistled for his fourth personal foul with 6:46 to play in the half.

Washington anchor gives Markelle Fultz his first piece of Celtics apparel

Washington anchor gives Markelle Fultz his first piece of Celtics apparel

Last week, potential No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz retweeted a t-shirt design featuring him in a No. 20 Celtics jersey.

But now thanks to Carol Maloney of NBC4 in Washington, Fultz has his first piece of Celtics apparel.

Maloney obtained the C’s shirt at Game 7 between the Celtics and Wizards at TD Garden.

When she handed Fultz the shirt, he laughed and said, “I think the internet is going to go crazy when they see this.”