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Patriots, Welker prep for showdown of standout WRs

Associated Press Modified: November 16, 2012 at 5:17 pm •  Published: November 16, 2012
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Wayne, 33, didn't flinch, though. He simply chose to remain with the only team he's ever played for.

"He's a Colt and he wanted to be a Colt bad. He's a legend here and he's going to go into the Hall of Fame," Colts interim coach Bruce Arians said. "He knew what he was getting into and I think he's excited more than anybody with the change. He's a rookie in this offense, too. Because he sat out on the left side for 10 years and now he's all over the place, running routes that he's never run before."

Patriots coach Bill Belichick wouldn't say whether Wayne's surprisingly successful season was solely attributed to the emergence of Luck, who has connected with Wayne for three touchdowns so far. To him, Wayne is the same lethal receiver he's always been.

"I don't really see Reggie Wayne much differently than I saw him in the past. He was good then, he's good now," Belichick said. "There were some issues last year with their quarterbacking and passing game and all that but I didn't see any drop-off in Reggie Wayne as a football player.

"I don't know, maybe I missed it. He's always looked pretty good to me."

Tasked with trying to slow Wayne and the Colts' aerial assault this weekend, New England safety Steve Gregory also hasn't noticed anything different about the standout receiver.

"Just being Reggie Wayne," he said. "That guy's a consistently excellent wide receiver in the NFL. That's why he's around so long and that's why you've got to know where he is at all times."

After missing two practices earlier in the week with an ankle injury, Welker returned to the field Friday but refused to place a percentage on his health.

"I don't know if anybody's 100 percent at this point in the season," he said. "I don't know where I'm at. I'm just looking forward to getting better and trying to contribute on Sunday."

Even if Manning's not on the other sideline anymore.

"They're a 6-3 team and playing really good football right now with a young group of guys," Welker said. "Reggie Wayne's playing really well and their defense flies around pretty good.

"So, I'd say that's still a pretty big rivalry."

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