VegasInsider.com
VI Mobile Scores and Betting OddsVI Mobile Scores and Betting Odds Be Social
Home
NFL
NBA
NHL
MLB
NCAA FB
NCAA BK
Golf
Auto
Horses
Soccer
BOX/MMA
CFL
More
Betting Tools

 
History on tap, Patriots WR Welker set for Texans

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) - Jerry Rice never did it. Neither did Marvin Harrison. On Monday night, Wes Welker takes his swing for it.

Advertisement
Just eight more catches and the New England Patriots standout receiver will achieve another of his many milestones that he insists he doesn't dwell on.

He'll break a tie with those retired stars and become the first player with 100 receptions in five different seasons.

Is he looking forward to it? Is he excited for it? Does he even care?

``Maybe when I'm done playing,'' Welker said Friday. ``But right now, I'm just focused on however many catches I need to get to help us win.''

Welker has a decent chance to make those eight grabs on Monday night when the New England Patriots (9-3) face the Houston Texans (11-1) in a marquee AFC matchup.

After all, he's averaging 7.3 receptions per game in his six seasons since being traded from Miami, and he traditionally comes up big in key games.

He could add that mark to a long list of accomplishments on Monday:

- Welker is tied with Rice in NFL history with 17 games of at least 10 catches.

- Welker is on pace to break a tie with Cris Carter as the only player to catch 120 passes in a season twice.

- Welker has the most receptions in the past six seasons (646), by a large margin over Brandon Marshall (565).

And what really matters is this. The Patriots have won six in a row and they are already AFC East champions as they welcome the conference's top team.

``There's nothing more important in Wes's life than being a football player and thinking about football and making the big play and running the right route and getting open when it's most important,'' quarterback Tom Brady said. ``That's what quarterbacks dream about.''

Grabbing 100 passes seemed far from certain early in the season. Getting on the field, in fact, was a bigger issue.

Welker took part in just 70.5 percent of the offensive snaps in the first two games after participating in 88.9 percent of them during the 2011 regular season. Julian Edelman even started in his place in the second game.

``It's a long season so you just keep on battling, keep on working hard,'' Welker said Friday. ``That doesn't change, even now.''

Coach Bill Belichick never explained his reasoning, and Welker said he felt ``fine'' physically.

In the season opener against Tennessee, Welker sat out 25 of the 67 offensive snaps. But in the past four games, he missed a total of just 23 plays.

And in Sunday's 23-16 win over Miami, he had 12 catches for 103 yards, and was thrown to 18 times.

Now, he has an NFL-high 92 snares - one more than Marshall - and is seventh with 1,064 yards receiving.

And because of injuries - Edelman is out for the season with a foot injury suffered last Sunday, and tight end Rob Gronkowski is likely to miss his third straight game with a broken forearm - Brady could be looking for Welker even more than usual.

``There's pressure on everybody,'' Welker said. ``Everybody's got to step up.''

He prefers not to look back at the knee injury he suffered at Houston in the last game of the 2009 season that forced him to miss the playoffs. It's all about moving forward for Welker.

After all, that is the New England way.

``I'm really trying not to think about it too much. (I) appreciate you bringing that up,'' Welker said with a grin. ``I've just moved on from it and just worked hard and tried to get better.

``And, luckily, I'm where I'm at today.''

He also won't look ahead to where he might be next season, once his $9.5 million, one-year deal that came with his franchise tag expires. There will be a time to think about contracts. This weekend is not that time.

``I'm not worried about a contract at all,'' he said.

And when he says that, you get the sense that he means it. His statistics might not be this good otherwise.

In fact, special teams captain and wide receiver Matthew Slater has admired Welker's ``professionalism'' in the five years they've been teammates.

``A guy like that who's been able to accomplish all that he has here, he never loses his sense of urgency. He never loses the respect that you have to have for this game,'' Slater said. ``It would be easy for a guy like that to take a couple of days off or not practice as hard here and there, but he doesn't.''

That can motivate his teammates, of course. Yet another trait synonymous with the Patriots.

``If you see a guy who's caught 100 balls every year working harder than everybody else, you definitely better be working as hard as you can,'' Slater said. ``There's no room for slacking.''

So, as expected, Welker is preparing diligently to face the Texans and a secondary that's banged up. Cornerback Johnathan Joseph was limited in practice Friday after missing the past two games with a hamstring injury and Houston coach Gary Kubiak said a decision on whether he'll play will be made in the next couple of days.

Joseph said he expects to play. But nickel cornerback Brice McCain had surgery on his left foot on Monday and Alan Ball missed the previous game with a sore foot.

``You don't have as much film'' on players who will fill in, Welker said. ``But you can still study the games that they are in there, and really try and get an edge.''

Welker usually does.

As a slot receiver, he catches passes at the line of scrimmage as well as quick slants, then does a good job running after the catch.

He also can take advantage of certain defensive formations and break down the field. And he makes key contributions even when the ball is thrown to someone else. He doesn't give up on plays.

That's not likely the change.

``He busts his butt harder than anybody to make sure he's doing his job to clear out on a certain route or to take some coverage with him so another guy can get the ball,'' Brady said. ``I think that's what makes Wes really special, is his selflessness as a player.

``But the ball always seems to find a way to him.''

---

Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Copyright 2018 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written
consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

  
HEADLINES
BetDSI: AFC South Odds Outlook
BetDSI: Handicapping Green Bay (10)
BetDSI: AFC North Odds Outlook
Lawrence: 2018 Strength of Schedule
News: CG releases Week 1-16 Odds
Former Bucs' QB Freeman retires
Woodruff Foundation to help veterans
Etling getting work in Patriots' OTAs
Giants S Collins wants to go in minicamp
MORE HEADLINES
 
Why Buy Picks From VegasInsider.com
NFL Pro Football Handicapper Sports Picks Records
VegasInsider.com Gold Membership
2017 NFL SEASON PICK RECORDS
Money Leaders
Handicapper Money
Pat Hawkins + 2145
Gary Bart + 1530
Paul Bovi + 1386
Last Week's Leaders
Handicapper Money
Mark Franco + 200
Hank Goldberg + 200
Bill Marzano + 191
Percentage Leaders
Handicapper Pct
Zack Cimini 62 %
Pat Hawkins 59 %
KellyInVegas 59 %
Guaranteed Leaders
Handicapper Money
Michael Black + 1557
Scott Rickenbach + 1469
Paul Bovi + 987
Over-Under Leaders
Handicapper Money
NeiltheGreek + 668
Stephen Nover + 563
Vince Akins + 532
Member Leaders
Handicapper Money
Bill Marzano + 531
Jimmy Boyd + 420
Dave Cokin + 400
MORE PICK RECORDS
  
corner graphic
With a VI Gold Membership, you can SAVE 20% off Daily Pick packages, SAVE 10% off a Live Odds Pro subscription, and receive access to up to 1,000 Member Plays each month!
VI Gold Membership