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Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Julian Edelman starts over Wes Welker

Wes Welker’s role in New England’s offense was questioned after the receiver caught just three passes for 14 yards in a Week 1 win over the Titans. That was the fewest receiving yards Welker had since joining the Patriots in 2007, not counting the 2009 game where he was carted off against the Texans. After Julian Edelman started New England’s game against the Cardinals over Welker, the questions about Wes’ role in the offense seem legitimate.

Welker was not on the field for New England’s first offensive play of the game when Tom Brady was intercepted on a tipped ball. He wasn’t on the field when the Pats opened up their second drive of the game, either. Instead, the Pats ran a wide receiver screen to Edelman. Welker didn’t see his first action until the Pats’ third play of the game, and that was after Aaron Hernandez left the field with an injury.

After the questions came about Welker’s lack of involvement in Week 1 — he only played in 64% of the team’s snaps and was targeted just five times — Tom Brady insisted that Welker is still a big part of the offense.

“He’s a huge part of this offense and what we do on a weekly basis,” said Brady. “I’m sure there won’t be too many games where he doesn’t get a lot of opportunity.

“There are different opportunities on different weeks for different players. I think the thing that’s important to remember is that it’s a 16-game season.”

I absolutely bought into what Brady said, recognizing that so much changes in the NFL depending on a team’s game plan for the week. But once I saw Edelman start the first two series over Welker, I began to seriously question how involved the team wants him to be this year.

New England notably gave contract extensions to tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez over the offseason while only offering Welker, who held out, a one-year deal. Maybe they’re out to prove that he’s not that valuable of a piece in their offense and that Edelman can fill his role.

UPDATE: Welker ended up leading the team with 95 yards on five catches. He was targeted 11 times, second behind Brandon Lloyd. Edelman had 5 catches for 50 yards.

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