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Miller wonders if new roles might kick in

Punter is impressed by Welker's versatility

FOXBOROUGH -- Patriots punter Josh Miller had a comedic take on Dolphin Wes Welker's day as a kick and punt returner as well as kicker in the Patriots' 24-10 win over Miami Sunday.

Miller was quite complimentary on Welker's ability to add kicking to his kick returner duties after regular kicker Olindo Mare went down with a calf injury. And a little worried, he joked.

"It's going to get to the point where they say [forget] kickers and punters, we're going to get athletes," Miller said. "After seeing what he did, what the heck? I can't go in there and run the ball or throw the ball. It's easier for them to come and do what we do, than for us to do what they do, that's for sure."

Welker made his only field goal attempt, a 29-yarder, and hit his only extra point try. He also kicked off three times. And he took care of his regular duties, returning five kickoffs and five punts.

Miller used to practice placekicking when he played in Pittsburgh, just in case. He said he has not been asked by the Patriots to practice placekicking, but suspects that could change after seeing what happed to Miami Sunday.

"You would need a good week, get a rhythm going, especially for the holder," Miller said. "I'm sure after seeing that, I'm sure we'll do it."

Asked what other position he could play, Miller said: "The one I'm doing -- holding. I could probably be a decoy."

Miller said if he were pressed into duty when Adam Vinatieri was unavailable, the Patriots would likely use quarterback Jim Miller as the holder.

"It would be the Miller-Miller connection, which would be kind of cool," he said. But if Miller were the third quarterback and not active until the fourth quarter, "Then I'd have to go with [quarterback Tom] Brady, in which case there'd be more pressure on me not to kick his fingers. That would surely drive me out of town."

Brady was called on to punt once last season, and got off a 36-yarder. "Well, that's my point," he said. "You've got these returners coming in and kicking field goals, quarterbacks punting the ball; I hope I can get a couple of more years in before they realize that they really don't need us."

Miller said he was "more impressed with [Welker's kickoffs] than I was with the field goal. To kick off is pretty tough because the guys behind you have to stay behind you. I'm sure they hadn't worked with him before on staying onside. You're also still making a call. You probably still want to kick to a certain side. He seemed to put the ball into the right corner. So that was impressive, almost to the point where it ticks you off it was so impressive."

Silent treatment
Patriots tight end Christian Fauria would do just about anything to avoid answering questions about Seattle this week.

The former Seahawk, in his third season with the Patriots, said: "I don't have any grudges against them or anything like that, nor am I bitter against anybody. I left on good terms. I came, for me, to a better place. I had a lot of good experiences there, but for me this is home now. It was a good time in my life, but for the most part this is what I'm looking at right now. I really don't want to get into the whole different situations attitude. I don't want to play that. I can just see myself hearing about that on Wednesday.

"All I know is that when I came here I was happy, happier than I was when I was there, but that seems to happen with everybody when they go to a new team. It's kind of like a honeymoon situation, and either they get better or they stay the same or worse, and for me it's gotten better."

Asked to compare Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren with Bill Belichick, Fauria, who played his first seven seasons with the Seahawks, said: "No, I'm not going to compare him to Belichick. I'm not going to go there. That's a little land mine waiting to blow up in my face."

Decisions, decisions
Bethel Johnson did not appear during the media's 45-minute access period. Belichick continued to call it a "coaches' decision" and reiterated there were no disciplinary reasons involved in excluding Johnson from the game roster against Miami. Belichick said he went into the game with the roster that gave him the best chance to win, which didn't include Johnson . . . It looks as if Dolphins backup quarterback A.J. Feeley was shaking off the cobwebs after a hit by Rosevelt Colvin on Miami's final offensive play Sunday, and might be ready to play next week at Buffalo after all . . . To honor the Patriots' record 19-game winning streak, a limited amount of regulation-size footballs listing each of the wins are being produced. Only 5,000 will be made and portions of the proceeds will benefit Make-A-Wish Foundation of Massachusetts. Each costs $95. For information, call 1-800-345-2868 or go to
www.nikcosports.com. 

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