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Thursday, August 23, 2012
Welker's status in doubt for Friday

By Mike Reiss

TAMPA -- In a sign that his status for Friday night's preseason game against the Buccaneers is in doubt, Patriots receiver Wes Welker did not dress for this morning's joint practice.

Welker was in attendance, standing along the sideline in shorts, T-shirt and a backwards white cap. At one point, he spoke with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.

Welker, who had left one practice late last week midway through the session and did not play in Monday's second preseason game against the Eagles, had participated at the start of Wednesday's full-pads practice.

Friday night is expected to be the Patriots' "dress rehearsal", with top players potentially staying in the game into the third quarter. If Welker doesn't play, four-year veteran Julian Edelman and rookie Jeremy Ebert would likely be bumped up the depth chart.

Edelman had filled in admirably for Welker at the end of the 2009 season, totaling 10 receptions for 103 yards in the season finale at Houston after Welker tore his ACL early in the game.

With Welker playing under a one-year deal, Friday could be a preview of what life could be like in 2013 and beyond if Welker isn't back with the club after this season.

Elsewhere on the injury front, defensive back Ross Ventrone also didn't dress for Thursday morning's practice, which was held in shorts and shells (light shoulder pads). Veteran safety Will Allen also walked off with a member of the team's athletic training staff after agility drills, putting his status for Friday night's game in doubt.

Others not suited up for practice for the second day in a row included receiver Jabar Gaffney, safety Patrick Chung, linebacker Tracy White, offensive tackle Matt Kopa, tight end Visanthe Shiancoe and defensive lineman Gerard Warren.