Tom Brady: Wes Welker 'huge part' of Patriots' offense


New England Patriots fans are spoiled. In the wake of a sharp Week 1 offensive performance against the Tennessee Titans, a dominant storyline locally coming out of the game was the reduction of Wes Welker's snap count.

There wasn't a lot of talk about the offensive line playing much better after a rough preseason. We didn't hear much about Stevan Ridley's huge game, Rob Gronkowski's return from injury, or Brandon Lloyd's debut. It was all Welker conspiracy theories.

We contributed to uproar, and probably overreacted. The Patriots are a gameplan specific team. Welker was still on the field for the vast majority of snaps. He received five targets in the game; no one on the team had more than eight.

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"(Welker) is a huge part of this offense and what we do on a weekly basis," Tom Brady said Wednesday, via in a quote that felt completely unnecessary. "Every week is a little bit different. 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. You start getting up there, and play [600] or 700 plays every year, when you need it most, you have to be fresh. I think that goes for all of us. There is really a fine line because you're not pacing yourself by any stretch, but at the same time, 'Look, it's Week 1.' We have a lot of football to play. We're going to need everybody."

Julian Edelman will probably get more snaps than usual this year. The team's young tight ends and Lloyd add more variety to the defense. This is just what the Patriots do.

Troy Brown also played the slot and held the team's all-time reception record by himself until Welker tied it last week. Brown's numbers went from that of a role player to a 100-catch receiver and back during his career.

Welker isn't going to become a role player this year, but it makes sense that he will see fewer targets. It's not a conspiracy. It's the Patriot Way.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.