Friday, November 4, 2011
Wes Welker questionable; Fletcher out
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker practiced for a second straight day Friday after missing a session with a neck injury. He was officially listed as questionable for Sunday's game against the New York Giants, though his comments suggest there is a much better than 50-50 chance he will play.
"I'm feeling good. I'm just looking forward to this weekend," Welker said Friday. "I think any time you play in a game in the National Football League, you're going to have your bumps and bruises. Some things take an extra day -- some take longer, some take less. You have to monitor it and move on."
Patriots linebacker Dane Fletcher, who missed practice all week with a thumb injury, was the only New England player ruled out of Sunday's game. Nine players, including Welker, are questionable: safety Josh Barrett (thumb), defensive end Shaun Ellis (ribs), running back Kevin Faulk (knee), running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis (toe), defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth (back), tight end Aaron Hernandez (knee), linebacker Jerod Mayo (knee) and offensive lineman Sebastian Vollmer (back). All had limited participation in Friday's practice session, which was held in light shoulder pads.
Also not practicing on Friday was offensive lineman Donald Thomas, who told reporters on Thursday that he was expecting the birth of his first child on Friday morning.
Welker appeared to suffer the injury on his last catch of Sunday's loss in Pittsburgh. He was grabbed by Steelers safety Troy Polamalu around the shoulders and in the neck area and taken down with about six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Welker was slow to get up, but remained in the game.
After his hot start, Welker has noticed defenses approaching him and the Patriots' attack differently in recent weeks. He was held to six receptions for 39 yards Sunday, with Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor often lining up across from him.
"There has been a lot more man coverage, guys getting in your face and grabbing and doing whatever they need to do," he said. "At the same time, you have to understand that and do business as business is being done, and be physical and get open. That's what it comes down to."
Welker has an NFL-high 57 receptions this season for 824 yards, which ranks second in the league.
Fletcher suffered the thumb injury in the preseason against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and missed the final two exhibition games. He returned to play in the first six games of the regular season, but played only one defensive snap against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 6 and missed last week's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Asked about Fletcher's status at his Friday news conference, coach Bill Belichick said that Fletcher was "doing some rehab" but that the team would have placed Fletcher on injured reserve if they thought it was a season-ending situation.
On Thursday night, Fletcher tweeted for the first time in nearly two weeks, writing "Love my fans, thank you all for bearing with me... As you know, I'm doing everything imaginable to be back on the field as soon as possible!"
ESPNBoston.com's Mike Reiss and Mike Rodak contributed to this report.