Wes Welker's Reduced Role a Developing Story, and More AFC East News
The New England Patriots lost not just their first home-opener in the 10-year history of Gillette Stadium but also one of their biggest offensive weapons in tight end Aaron Hernandez.
It should have been a banner day for Welker, who broke Patriots Hall-of-Fame wide receiver Troy Brown's New England record for receptions, but instead, ESPN Boston's Mike Reiss points out that while Welker played in 63 offensive snaps, wide receiver Julian Edelman played in 75 and lined up as the starting wide receiver on Sunday against the Cardinals.
Including penalties and a two-point conversion, Edelman was on for 75 snaps, while Welker played 63, according to ESPNBoston.com charting. Welker finished with five receptions for 95 yards, while Edelman had five catches for 50 yards.
Is Wes Welker being phased out of the offense?
Welker is taking the high road in comments, saying, "You want to be out there. ...but at the same time, whatever works best for the team I'm for that."
But no one could blame him for feeling slighted a bit, and with this loss, perhaps now he has a better case than ever that he should be a big part of the offense, a case which would be made even more strongly if the injury to tight end Aaron Hernandez is, indeed, long-term.
As mentioned above, this isn't the first we've heard of this story, and Welker's long-term future with the Patriots has been in jeopardy for some time. That being said, if Welker's role doesn't increase this week and down the road while Hernandez is out of the lineup, Welker's short-term future could be in jeopardy, too.
Here is some more news and analysis around the AFC East.
New England Patriots
In more playing time analysis, Doug Kyed of NESN.com sheds light on Patriots cornerback Ras-I Dowling taking zero snaps on Sunday against the Cardinals.
Armando Salguero of The Miami Herald doesn't want to get too crazy, but says things are looking up after the win.
Joe Buscaglia of WGR 550 Sportsradio points out that C.J. Spiller is the first running back to average over 10 yards per carry through two games since Jim Brown in 1963, and more nuggets from yesterday's big win.
Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless specified otherwise, all quotes are obtained firsthand.
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