Patriots president Jonathan Kraft joined the "Dennis & Callahan" show on WEEI sports radio in Boston on Friday morning and admitted that, while within the locker room the Patriots are treating this Sunday's game against the Broncos like any other, there's a certain buzz felt by many others in the organization.
"Upstairs where the business people are and the marketing people and everybody like that, I think the answer is yes," he said. "I think where the football folks are, no, I think that it's the same thing week in and week out, which is why Bill is such an exceptional coach over such a long period of time. He understands it's a long season and you've got to keep your team emotionally in the same place each week."
Among the primary reasons for the buzz is the potential return of former Patriot Wes Welker, who is making progress in his recovery from a concussion suffered last Sunday night.
"How do you not, as a football fan, forget just being a Patriots fan, how do you not have huge admiration for Wes?" Kraft said about Welker. "The thing I always say about him aside from the fact that he's a wonderful guy that I've had the privilege of knowing, when I stand next to him -- and I'm no physical specimen -- there's really not a lot of difference in terms of what you look at when the two of us are standing next to each other. And then you watch him on the football field and do what he does, it's indescribable."
While Kraft was not shy about his praise for Welker, he also understands why the Patriots were unable to come to terms on a long-range contract for him this offseason, as the two sides went back and forth before Welker eventually ended up in Denver.
"Bill [Belichick], when he's building a team, he takes emotion out of it completely," he said. "He truly does what he feels is in the best interest of the team. And he has a dollar value in mind and structures that can work for different people, regardless of how he feels about you personally, not as a football player, because I know as a football player he has the utmost for Wes, a huge amount of respect."
Shortly after the opening of free agency, Welker signed a deal with the Broncos, which was followed soon thereafter by the Patriots inking Danny Amendola to a five-year free-agent contract.