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Welker takes next step in his football career

By MARK DANIELS
The Providence Journal, R.I.

July 22. 2017 9:10PM


BOSTON - Wes Welker needed something to satiate the competitive appetite that fueled him over the course of 12 NFL seasons. It took the former Patriots wide receiver about a year, but he thinks he found his next step in the form of coaching.

The upcoming season marks Welker's return to the NFL with the Houston Texans as an offensive assistant. He joins forces with his former Patriots offensive coordinator and current Texans head coach, Bill O'Brien.

"You miss the competition. You want to find a way to compete," Welker said. "I feel like this is kind of the next best thing of being able to compete without playing. It's a fun deal. I love being around the game. I love learning more about it. I'm learning a lot from coach O'Brien and all the other coaches. Just all the intricacies and all the things that go into it."

Welker was back in New England on Wednesday, alongside Rob Ninkovich and Sebastian Vollmer, doing media appearances and a celebrity bartending event.

The 36-year-old spent last season testing out the waters. He worked as an assistant coach, in the offseason, for both Miami and Baltimore to get a taste of what coaching would be like. He also worked hard with his "Wes Welker Foundation" to supply over $1 million to local schools in Oklahoma City. Eventually, Welker decided to join O'Brien in Houston.

The fact that O'Brien has the same offense Welker played in certainly helps, but Welker said he also learned a great deal from Bill Belichick when it comes to coaching.

"Absolutely. For sure. I take a lot of what he did and how he coached - especially his X's and O's and game planning for teams, preparation, how to play certain teams," Welker said. "You kind of look at and watch how they play teams and how they game plan for them and you're like, 'oh, that's really smart.' There's a lot of aspects of what (the Patriots) do that I've learned a ton from. Just the preparation part and X's and O's, it's really helped me in my coaching just being around that the time I was."

During his time in the NFL, Welker was arguably the most productive slot receiver in the league's history. In five of his six seasons in Foxborough, he totaled over 111 receptions and 1,160 receiving yards. The knowledge that he has from 12 NFL seasons has certainly stuck with him. Anytime he watches the Patriots play, he gets a lot of joy out of seeing players like Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola. On each play, he knows where they should be and what they'll do.

"Yeah, absolutely. It's cool," Welker said. "I can pretty much sit there and call out the plays they're going to run a lot of the times. 'Oh here comes this or that.' They do such a great job of putting those guys in good positions and those guys understanding where they need to be."

Welker hopes that knowledge will carryover in this new venture. As he did when he was in Foxborough, he's taking his coaching career day-by-day, but is happy to be around the competitive NFL atmosphere once again.

"It's been good. I've enjoyed myself," Welker said. "It's fun to be around. Fun to be around the guys and being in the same system I was kind of in, in New England and knowing that offense and understanding that aspect of it. We have a good group of coaches and a good group of players that I'm enjoying so far."


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