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Baltimore Ravens not worried about Wes Welker's role

The Baltimore Ravens plan to play a lot of nickel coverages against the New England Patriots on Sunday. That will happen regardless of Wes Welker's role in the Patriots' receiving corps.

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"It has nothing to do with us whether he's there or not," Ravens cornerback Cary Williams told Comcast SportsNet Baltimore on Friday. "We're still preparing the same way.

"They haven't changed. That's part of their offense and something they do. They want to spread you out. That's fine. We're ready for that."

Welker has been one of the most dangerous receivers in the NFL the previous five seasons. He has four Pro Bowls and has led the NFL in receptions three times, including 122 for a career-high 1,569 yards and nine touchdowns in 2011. As fantasy owners can depressingly attest to, Welker has just eight receptions for 109 yards in 2012.

Yeah, the Patriots have tweaked the offense to more prominently feature tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez (before his low ankle sprain, which should sideline him four to six weeks). But Welker has been targeted just 16 times in two games -- and he received more snaps after the Hernandez injury.

The contentious contract negotiations between Welker and the Patriots still are fresh, but was that enough to reduce his role in the offense?

It's an odd situation that no one has given a straight answer to. And it's not like Welker has lost his ability to run or catch.

But how often does Patriots coach Bill Belichick explain himself to anyone ...?

Either way, the Ravens don't seem overly concerned. And that says a lot about the Welker situation in itself.

Follow Kareem Copeland on Twitter @kareemcopeland.

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