Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
Wes Welker, the NFL's leading receiver over the past two seasons, will not play for the Patriots because of a knee injury. Welker hasn't missed a game since his rookie season in 2004, when he played one game for the San Diego Chargers and 14 for the Miami Dolphins.
Welker's absence opens the door for rookie receiver Julian Edelman to step up on the big stage. Edelman, a converted quarterback drafted in the seventh-round out of Kent State, will make his NFL debut. He became a fan favorite in the preseason for looking like a Welker knockoff -- a gritty slot receiver and punt returner.
Also of note on the inactive list is the Jets' designation of Kevin O'Connell as their third quarterback ahead of Erik Ainge. The Patriots waived O'Connell at the end of training camp. The Detroit Lions picked him up and traded him to the Jets, who had said he would be the fourth quarterback.
Here are all of the inactives:
New England Patriots
Receiver Wes Welker
Receiver Matthew Slater
Tight end Michael Matthews
Guard Kendall Simmons
Offensive lineman Rich Ohrnberger
Offensive lineman Dan Connolly
Linebacker Jerod Mayo
Cornerback Terrence Wheatley
New York Jets