Following up on an item in this week's Team Notes. ... While it seems unnecessary, Tom Brady said Wednesday that slot receiver Wes Welker is "a huge part of this offense and what we do on a weekly basis."
Welker was targeted 173 times in 2011 and led the NFL with 122 catches. This year, the team is paying him a $9.5 million salary. Yet the fact Welker saw five passes on Sunday and played fewer snaps than normal touched off conspiracy theories that couldn't see the forest for the trees.
According to CSNNE.com's Tom Curran, Brady's words should quell theories, but that's no guarantee.
"Every week is a little bit different," Brady explained. "There are different opportunities on different weeks for different players. I think the thing that's important to remember is that it's a 16-game season. You start getting up there, and play  or 700 plays every year, when you need it most, you have to be fresh. I think that goes for all of us. There is really a fine line because you're not pacing yourself by any stretch, but at the same time, 'Look, it's Week 1.' We have a lot of football to play. We're going to need everybody."
Brady was likely alluding to the fact that Julian Edelman played snaps in Tennessee in place of Welker. Roughly two-thirds of the snaps went to Welker; one-third went to Edelman.
On Sunday, the addition of wide receiver Brandon Lloyd and the emergence of Stevan Ridley helped cause Brady to funnel them the ball on 29 plays.
"There are going to be games where Wes has not as many opportunities, and games where he has a ton of opportunities," said Brady. "It all depends on how the game may play out or the situation of the game. But he’s I’m sure there won't be too many games where he doesn't get a lot of opportunity."
In case you missed it, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels told reporters on Tuesday it was a matter game plan.
Tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez were on the field for all 67 offensive snaps. Newly acquired tight end Michael Hoomanawanui was on for 10 plays. Welker, who typically is on for most snaps, was on for just 43 of the 67.
McDaniels said that adjustments in the game plan are made each week.
“Sometimes that may include playing more multiple tight ends," the coach said. "Sometimes it might be playing a lot more receivers. We kind of try to feel that out as we go through our preparation and then make the decisions that go along with it."
Still, as Boston Herald staff writer Karen Guregian suggested, there’s nothing like a good cliffhanger to make you tune in to next week’s game. It’s an unexpected storyline, the case of the disappearing snaps for Welker. The next episode is Sunday.