Brady comments on the loss of Welker

From ESPNBoston.com:

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady spoke Monday morning for the first time about receiver Wes Welker's knee injury, saying the team "can't replace him" and would have to "evolve a little bit" on offense without its leading receiver.

Welker suffered a devastating knee injury while making a cut in the first quarter of Sunday's regular-season-ending loss to the Houston Texans. Initial tests showed he tore both the anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament in his left knee, but he is scheduled to undergo more testing Monday, a source close to the situation told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

Should the diagnosis hold up, Welker's season would be over and he would face a long recovery period. Meanwhile, the Patriots are beginning preparations for Sunday's home playoff game against Baltimore.

"You can't replace him, there's no doubt about that," Brady said Monday in an interview on Boston sports radio station WEEI. "There's nobody that can substitute in for Wes and think that they're going to be Wes. He is everything you ask for.

"We've got to move on and we've got to go out there and play, and everyone I think in different areas has to pick it up. I have to play better, Julian [Edelman] has to play better, Randy [Moss] has to play better, the offensive line, running backs, tight ends, we all have to do more. I think that's the commitment we have to make to one another."

Welker broke his own franchise record with 123 catches this season and piled up 1,348 yards and four touchdowns despite missing the first two games of the season and most of Sunday's loss. Brady's completion percentage with Welker in the lineup is more than 11 points higher this season (68) than it is without him (56.3). Still, Brady thinks the Patriots can use Welker's absence as a strategic advantage Sunday in their wild-card game against the Ravens.

"We're going to evolve a little bit as an offense now," Brady said on WEEI. "It was a very Wes Welker-oriented offense. Maybe part of the advantage is Baltimore doesn't really know what they're going to see from us now. We're going to have shift focus and they're really not sure where that focus is going to go.

"In some ways that's an advantage for us. There's a lot of things we've done with Wes that we don't do with anybody else. We're going to find other areas to exploit and use the talents of Julian and Sam [Aiken] and Randy and Chris Baker and Kevin [Faulk] and Laurence [Maroney] and Fred [Taylor] and Sammy [Morris], ands all those other really great players we have on offense to be able to move the ball."

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