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Patriots notebook

Welker feels fine, but he’s awaiting orders

By Monique Walker
Globe Staff / August 31, 2011

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FOXBOROUGH - Wes Welker isn’t making any predictions about the next time he steps on the field after suffering a neck injury in Saturday’s exhibition loss to the Lions. While he feels fine, the receiver said he is awaiting orders from his coaches and trainers.

Welker did not practice yesterday, three days after sustaining the injury while tackling Ricardo Silva after the Lions safety grabbed an interception.

Welker did not play after the tackle.

The Patriots will play their final exhibition game against the Giants tomorrow, but Welker said it’s not his decision if he will play.

“If Bill [Belichick] wants me out there and the doctors OK it, I’ll definitely be out there,’’ he said.

Welker said neck injuries often require more caution.

“I think anything that has to do with that part of your body is always scary,’’ he said. “We have good doctors and good trainers and stuff, so I wasn’t too worried about it.’’

Will Welker be ready to go for the season opener?

“I hope so,’’ he said. “We’ll see what the doctors and the trainers and everybody else says and what they say is what’s going to happen.’’

Faulk PUP-bound? Running back Kevin Faulk is eager to return, months after having surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee, but he is beginning to accept that this season may begin for him on the reserve/physically unable to perform list.

“It will be difficult, but that’s probably what’s going to happen,’’ Faulk said.

If Faulk stays on the PUP list when the season begins, he cannot practice or play for the first six weeks. But he also would not count against the active roster.

Faulk is frustrated about not being on the field but enjoys being in on meetings and helping the club’s younger backs.

“I think Coach said it perfect when we talked: ‘I know if I could, I can put you out there right now and you would give me 120 percent.’ And you know, he’s probably right. But he’s like, ‘I want you to be better than 120 percent.’ It’s whatever I can do to help the team win is what I will do.’’

Spikes makes return Linebacker Brandon Spikes, who has been out with an ankle injury, practiced yesterday for the first time since early August. In addition, fellow linebacker Dane Fletcher, and defensive lineman Mike Wright all returned to practice. Offensive lineman Dan Connolly, who injured his ankle against the Lions, did not practice. Others who did not practice included Taylor Price, Leigh Bodden, Stevan Ridley, Jermaine Cunningham, Ryan Wendell, Eric Kettani, and Jeff Tarpinian.

Safeties in numbers With the release of veteran James Sanders Monday, Brandon Meriweather, Patrick Chung, and Sergio Brown are now New England’s leading safeties. But others are in the mix. Josh Barrett and James Ihedigbo, who both primarily have been used on special teams, will get chances, as will Ross Ventrone.

Belichick believes Barrett and Ihedigbo could earn more reps behind the primary safeties.

“I think we have a number of players that have played well at that position – some on our team, some on other teams,’’ Belichick said. “We’ll see how all that plays out. I think there are a number of different ways to use those players. We’ll see how their roles develop.’’

Chung wished Sanders the best.

“He’s a great player and a great friend and my love goes out to him wherever he ends up,’’ Chung said. “He’s a good player.’’

When asked how the move affects him, Chung said he isn’t planning anything different.

“My role is whatever coach wants my role to be,’’ he said. “If he wants me to do something, I’m just going to do it to the best of my ability. I’m going to do what I have to do to make sure I stay on the field.’’

Murrell, Ross released The Patriots released linebacker Marques Murrell and undrafted rookie wide receiver Jeremy Ross. Murrell first joined the Patriots last year after playing three seasons with the Jets . . . The Patriots also signed long snapper James Dearth . . . Linebacker Jerod Mayo was honored with the Ron Burton Community Service Award last night at the team’s Annual Kickoff Gala.

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

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