Will a Revis blanket keep Welker under wraps?
One of the big matchups today could be Wes Welker being covered by Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis.
Welker, the NFL’s leading receiver, noted Friday that the Patriots have film cuts of 600 snaps from last season and this one in which Revis was lined up over the slot receiver - which is where Welker does his best work.
Welker is off to a fantastic start with 40 catches (no one else has more than 27) for 616 yards and 5 touchdowns. Even for a player who has averaged 108 receptions a year since arriving in New England in 2007, it’s a blistering pace.
The 30-year-old has said he feels faster now than he’s ever felt, with his February 2009 knee surgery well behind him.
But if you’re looking for the secret to his success this season, his coach doesn’t believe it lies in his diet.
“I don’t think it’s anything that’s been planned,’’ said Bill Belichick, “or I don’t think he’s running routes differently or eating more broccoli or anything. I think some of that, it just kind of happens.’’
Deion Branch, who stands to be targeted more today if Welker is blanketed by Revis, doesn’t see much difference in Welker this year, just the same hard-working wideout.
“He’s the same guy,’’ Branch said. “This guy works hard in practice, he knows exactly what he’s doing on the field, Tom [Brady] trusts him, you know, all the things he’s been doing the years he caught those hundred balls.’’
Welker will have to work even harder today to keep up his 10-receptions-per-game standard if Revis is shadowing him. According to ProFootballFocus.com, Revis has been targeted just 11 times this season and has given up just three receptions, all in the season opener against the Cowboys .
Barometer reading Belichick has said that you don’t really know what you have in your team until you’re at least four games into the season.
So now that the Patriots are heading into their fifth game, what does he think they have?
“I think it’s still a work in progress,’’ he said. “Some things have gone better than others. Some things have been up and down.
“We’ll see how consistently we can do some things, whether we can improve on some things that haven’t gone as well, whether we can continue to be productive in some of the areas that we’ve been productive in.
“I think it’s somewhat of a barometer; I don’t think it’s the final results.’’
Belichick certainly will be looking for more out of New England’s defense, which is struggling.
The Patriots are allowing teams to convert nearly half of their third downs (24 of 50, 48 percent), have allowed opposing quarterbacks a 66.1 completion percentage, and haven’t recorded a sack since Week 2 against the Chargers.
Offensively, there has been little to quibble with, though seeing more receivers get involved and continuing to get production out of the running game would bolster the unit’s balance.
Solid on Solder Count Damien Woody among those impressed with the play of Patriots rookie tackle Nate Solder.
Woody, who retired this year after 12 seasons as an offensive lineman - he was drafted out of Boston College by the Patriots in 1999, playing in New England for five seasons before leaving for Detroit and then wrapping up his career with the Jets - was asked about Solder last week.
“I think he’s played well, to be honest with you,’’ said Woody. “I was really impressed with him against Cameron Wake and the Dolphins because he’s one of the best pass rushers in the league and I know that from playing against him.
“So I’ve really been impressed with him. It’s hard to go from left tackle to right tackle. That’s a big move. He’s a natural left tackle, and for him to play right tackle, I think that just shows you the versatility in a guy like Nate Solder.’’
Solder again will start at right tackle today, with Sebastian Vollmer still dealing with a back injury.
Ventrone is back up Defensive back Ross Ventrone was promoted off the practice squad. To make room, defensive back Phillip Adams, signed a couple of weeks ago, was released. Ventrone was signed to the 53-man roster for the game in Buffalo two weeks ago to provide depth, but he was released and then re-signed to the practice squad . . . With primary kick and punt returner Julian Edelman listed as doubtful after suffering an ankle injury in Oakland, Belichick wasn’t letting on who would take his place. “We’ve worked several guys back there, which we did in preseason,’’ said Belichick. “If he’s not able to go, then it will be one of them.’’ Belichick did say that Welker would be one of the players considered - he has been a punt returner in the past - but the leading candidate to handle kickoffs would be receiver Taylor Price.