HOUSTON — Wes Welker will return to an NFL sideline next season, beginning his coaching career as an offensive/special teams assistant with the Houston Texans.
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, who coached Welker during the prime years of the retired wide receiver’s playing career, gave the ex-Pats wideout a glowing review Wednesday.
“Nobody worked harder than Wes,” Belichick said in a news conference at the Patriots’ Super Bowl LI hotel. “Wes loved football. He was the first one in, last one out type of guy. Very instinctive player.”
Belichick went on to praise Welker’s versatility, noting his ability to affect a game both as a pass-catcher and on special teams.
“Wes was a great player for us as a receiver but also as a returner, and he was actually our backup kicker,” Belichick said. “He actually kicked in a game against us with the (Miami) Dolphins when they had an injury in pregame warmups.”
The Texans job will be Welker’s first official NFL coaching gig, but Belichick seems convinced the 35-year-old will make a seamless transition from helmet to headset.
“Wes is a football guy,” Belichick said. “He is into football. Whatever we asked him to do — block, run routes, return kicks, help us out in any way possible. Wes was a good football player, is a great football mind, works extremely hard and is a very instinctive player. He always seemed to do the right thing whether it was the slowdown, speed up, go under a linebacker, go over him, stop, keep going or pull up. He just had a great feel for where a quarterback wanted to throw him the ball and where he should be in the passing game relative to where other people were.”
“I am sure (Texans head coach Bill) O’Brien recognized that, as well, from coaching him. I am sure he will do a great job in whatever they ask him to do. He did a great job for us as a receiver, as a blocker and as a returner.”
Houston’s coaching staff is stacked with Patriots alumni. Welker, O’Brien, defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel, assistant head coach/defense Romeo Crennel and special teams coordinator Larry Izzo all either played or coached under Belichick in New England.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images