By Doug Farrar
August 08, 2013

Bill Belichick and Wes Welker, wrapping it up last December. Bill Belichick and Wes Welker, wrapping it up last December. (Getty Images/Boston Globe)

Catching you up on the latest must-read news and analysis from around the web …

• When I spoke to Wes Welker last month, he certainly sounded happy about his new role with the Denver Broncos. After one of the most productive spans in NFL history -- 672 receptions for 7,459 yards and 37 touchdowns in just six seasons with the New England Patriots -- Welker moved to Denver after the Pats tried to lowball him with a two-year, $10 million offer. Of course, any receiver would be happy with a transfer from Tom Brady to Peyton Manning -– no drop-off there -- but in the upcoming Fantasy Football Preview issue of SI, Welker went into detail about his relationship with Bill Belichick, and where things went wrong.

“It was just kind of hard,” Welker told Chris Ballard, “one of those deals where you have to endure him, put up with him. ... But he does it to everybody, it’s the way he is.”

Amazingly enough, Belichick’s taciturn moods still dominate Welker’s mentality to a degree.

“When I’m answering questions from the Denver media, I’m not worried about what the Broncos’ people are going to think,” Welker says. “I’m worried about what Belichick will think. Isn’t that crazy?”

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Not really. Anyone who’s worked in a dysfunctional situation (and we’re assuming dysfunction based on Welker’s comments) knows that it takes a while to get that out of your kitchen, even when you’re in a better situation. When you look back, it seems that the root of the issues between Belichick and Welker started to pop up before the 2012 season. The Pats were unable to re-sign Welker to a long-term extension and placed the franchise tag on him instead.

Welker was targeted just five times in the season opener against the Tennessee Titans (he caught three passes for 14 yards), and it took a while for the gameplans to feature the usual number of targets for Brady’s most reliable receiver. After he caught 13 passes on 15 targets for 104 yards and a touchdown against the Broncos on Oct. 7, Welker told the local Comcast affiliate that “It’s nice to stick it in Bill’s face every once in a while.”

Welker said it with a wink, but there seemed to be some truth behind it. Of course, he issued the standard New England non-denial denial the next day.

“It was a joke. I don’t know what else to say other than it was a joke. Bill and I -- whether you all believe it or not -- have a good relationship. I’ll make sure to keep that in-house going forward.”

Welker’s in a different house, but his old coach is still renting a room in his head. The Broncos travel to Foxboro for the Sunday night game on Nov. 24, so we haven’t heard the last of this.

• Hazing the rookies? Well, that’s been a training camp staple for decades, and giving the rooks “interesting” haircuts is a newer (and distressingly unfashionable) wrinkle. In Arizona, defensive tackle Darnell Dockett is in charge of these not-so-Supercuts, and he posted a few examples on his Twitter feed Wednesday evening.

Ouch. Cutting your own jersey number into a guy's hair, as Dockett did to Tyrann Mathieu? That's pretty bad. Still, we feel the sorriest for linebacker Kevin Minter, who got the modern art masterpiece on the top of his head. We kinda like Alex Okafor's Mr. T look, though.

• And hey! The preseason starts tonight, which means that there’s sort of actual football! Yay! If it doesn’t ring your bell just yet, you could always do what Audibles compadre Chris Burke and I did today … a preseason fantasy football challenge. Now, THAT’s geeky.

Anyway, here are Thursday's games:

Baltimore Ravens at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 7:30 p.m. ET

Cincinnati Bengals at Atlanta Falcons, 8 p.m. ET

St. Louis Rams at Cleveland Browns, 8 p.m. ET

Washington Redskins at Tennessee Titans, 8 p.m. ET

Denver Broncos at San Francisco 49ers, 8 p.m. ET

Seahawks Chargers

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