Saturday, February 17, 2018
Sports

Can't forget about the top pass catcher

INDIANAPOLIS — Wes Wel­ker is used to being overlooked.

He's 5 feet 9. He wasn't drafted. His 11 catches couldn't prevent the Patriots from losing the Super Bowl four years ago. And in the week before tonight's rematch against the Giants, the receiver is getting little attention.

Welker's league-high 122 catches were in the shadow of the injured ankle of Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski. So does the small receiver believe he needs a big game to raise his profile?

"I don't think I am really worried about that too much," Welker said. "I just try to go out there and do my job to the best of my ability. I really just focus on whatever I have to do to help the team win the game."

He could have a larger role with Gronkowski at less than full strength. Gronkowski's high left ankle sprain sustained in the AFC title game could keep him from tacking on yards after catches.

Patriots QB Tom Brady relies on Welker, whose 554 catches since 2007 lead the league, 80 more than second-place Brandon Marshall.

"Wes Welker would make any quarterback better with his ability to get open and catch the ball," Brady said. "He's a very smart player who has a great feel for the game, who has a great feel for how to get open in man-to-man (coverage), where to find the spots in zone, great body language."

Speaking of … : Gronkowski walked without a limp as the Patriots gathered for photographs Saturday. He posed for official team Super Bowl photos and pictures with family members at Lucas Oil Stadium. New England did not practice. Its walkthrough was Friday.

Personnel move: The Patriots released WR Tiquan Underwood, who had three catches in five games. That increases the likelihood of WR Chad Ochocinco being active. Ochocinco was inactive for the AFC title game, which came two days after he attended his father's funeral. DE Alex Silvestro was signed from the practice squad to take Underwood's roster spot.

Final rehearsal: The Giants held a 48-minute walkthrough with everyone in uniform. RB Ahmad Bradshaw, dealing with a sore right foot related to the broken bone that cost him four games, went through all the scripted situations. "He looked fine," coach Tom Coughlin said.

When you wish … : One player will go to Disney World on Monday. The player — not necessarily the official game MVP — also will be featured in the famed "I'm going to Disney World" commercial after the game. Then he will be honored with a parade Monday. Last year Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, also the game MVP, was honored.

Concert injuries: Eleven people were hurt Friday night as an estimated 50,000 people flooded downtown streets for a free outdoor concert by LMFAO. Two were injured separate from the concert-going group. Indianapolis Public Safety Director Frank Straub said none of the injuries were serious — most involved shortness of breath or scraped knees — and were well within the daily average of 10 to 15 injuries reported at the Super Bowl Village last week. Police made 22 arrests Friday night, mostly for public intoxication. One police car was damaged after concert-goers climbed on top of it to get a better view of the stage.

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Published: 02/17/18