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Patriots notebook

Welker a money receiver, but talk can wait

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By Monique Walker
Globe Staff / October 16, 2010

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FOXBOROUGH — Rumors of contract talk may be floating around Wes Welker, but he isn’t interested in hearing about it at this point in the season.

Once fellow wide receiver Deion Branch renegotiated the final year of his deal, the next logical thought was that it was done with Welker in mind. Welker is slated to earn a base salary of $2.15 million in 2011, the final year of his five-year contract.

After being traded to the Patriots on Monday, Branch agreed to restructure the final year of the six-year, $39 million contract he signed with the Seahawks in 2006. His base salary in 2011 was reduced from $5.9 million to $2.2 million, and incentives for next season were added.

Branch said he agreed to the restructuring so he could return to the Patriots, while the move gives the Patriots extra money if they want to secure a contract extension for Welker.

However, Welker isn’t concerned with that right now.

“Not really at all,’’ he said. “All I know is that I’m under contract and just happy to be here and happy to be a Patriot and just look forward to winning some ballgames.’’

Welker will get a chance to further prove his value tomorrow, when he steps onto the field for the first time as a Patriot without Randy Moss as his teammate.

Welker expects the Ravens’ defensive looks will be varied.

“That’s what adjustments are for and coming out there and making sure we see what they’re doing and making the adjustments off that,’’ he said.

Is there anything Welker hasn’t seen from a defense?

“There’s always a new wrinkle here and there every year, so you’ve just got to be ready for everything and make the adjustments as you go,’’ he said.

Critical eye
Rookie cornerback Devin McCourty remembers feeling slightly nervous when he sat down to watch film with Bill Belichick leading up to the draft. As Belichick asked McCourty to describe various plays from his most recent season at Rutgers, McCourty took it one step further and explained the responsibilities of other defensive players.

“Being at college for five years, it felt like I had a lot of time and I sat through a lot of meetings just kind of paying attention to what the coaches were saying to everybody, and after a while it kind of came naturally,’’ said McCourty.

When the film included a mistake by McCourty, he had to explain to Belichick what went wrong. And not only could McCourty answer the questions, he did so convincingly.

Earlier this week, Belichick said only a handful of players can retain that kind of information.

“Guys start telling you what the nose [tackle] is supposed to do on a particular stunt, and stuff like that,’’ Belichick said. “Usually you don’t get that . . . So you kind of [say], ‘What’s this guy doing? What’s that guy doing?’ And kind of keep going and say well, all right, so he understands what the linebackers are doing. He understands a couple adjustments.’’

McCourty said he is more focused on just his responsibilities at this point. Earlier this season, he said it was a challenge to watch games in which he struggled.

“It was very frustrating,’’ he said. “A lot of times it was mistakes we had covered and we knew what we were supposed to do. So, I think each week it’s about knowing those mistakes and going out there and fixing them.’’

Taylor is out
Running back Fred Taylor (toe injury) is the only player the Patriots have ruled out for tomorrow’s game. Taylor did not practice this week and has not played since the third quarter of the win over the Bills Sept. 26.

Safety James Sanders (hamstring) was limited in practice Thursday and yesterday, and is questionable for the game.

Cornerback Terrence Wheatley, who is coming back from a broken foot suffered in the preseason, fully participated in practice this week and is probable.

For the Ravens, defensive end Paul Kruger (knee) is doubtful, defensive lineman Haloti Ngata (knee) and cornerback Josh Wilson (hamstring) are questionable, and running back Ray Rice (knee), linebacker Jameel McLain (knee), fullback Le’Ron McClain (shoulder, knee), safety Ken Hamlin (ankle), and linebacker Edgar Jones (thigh) are probable.

Monique Walker can be reached at mwalker@globe.com.

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