Originally posted on Larry Brown Sports  |  Last updated 5/7/13
Wes Welker played the role of safety valve to perfection for Tom Brady for six seasons. Any time the New England Patriots had to have a first down, Brady would always be looking to go to Welker. Now, the three-time Super Bowl champion will not have that option. Instead, he will have to rely on the newly-acquired Danny Amendola and his dynamic tight end duo of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark wonders if the aforementioned players will be enough. During an appearance on “NFL Live” On Monday, Clark talked about Welker’s importance to the Patriots, which he thinks has been understated. “I think what’s really underestimated is Wes Welker’s importance to not only the New England Patriots, but Tom Brady,” he said, via ESPNBoston.com’s Mike Reiss. “A lot of what they do is timing. A lot of what they do is option reads, when you’re working inside against that nickelback or against those linebackers. Losing him is huge. “I know they think Danny Amendola can come in and have the same type of numbers he had with the Rams, but we also have to remember, he’s fragile. He’s not a guy who has completed a whole season, especially playing inside in what can be a physical AFC East. You also think about Gronkowski and the injury; that is going to be bigger than anything for the New England Patriots coming in this year.” The Patriots were not as concerned about Amendola’s injury history because most of his injuries have been to the upper body, but Clark makes some valid points. The chemistry Brady and Welker developed isn’t going to be instantly replicated by Brady and Amendola. Gronkowski’s health is also a major concern. However, there wouldn’t have been much bulletin board material for Bill Belichick to use if Clark had stopped there. He didn’t. “In 2010, we saw it start with the Jets in the playoffs,” he continued. “When Tom Brady gets pressure and when you’re man-to-man and bumping those guys and making it hard for him to throw, he sees ghosts. Even when guys aren’t around him, even when he’s not about to be sacked, when his clock goes off in his head that the ball should be out, we’ll see him duck, we’ll see him flinch. When you get Tom Brady doing that, the whole New England Patriots mystique goes away.” Again, some valid points. But Brady will probably use those points as motivation before the Steelers play the Patriots on Nov. 3. Health will be a major concern for New England heading into the season, but the same can be said for a lot of teams. Is it possible that this guy could be the answer? No, I didn’t think so either.

This article first appeared on Larry Brown Sports and was syndicated with permission.

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