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December 8, 2012

History on tap, Patriots’ Welker set for Texans

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Jerry Rice never did it. Neither did Marvin Harrison. On Monday night, Wes Welker takes his swing for it.

Just eight more catches and the New England Patriots standout receiver will achieve another of his many milestones that he insists he doesn’t dwell on.

He’ll break a tie with those retired stars and become the first player with 100 receptions in five different seasons.

Is he looking forward to it? Is he excited for it? Does he even care?

“Maybe when I’m done playing,” Welker said Friday. “But right now, I’m just focused on however many catches I need to get to help us win.”

Welker has a decent chance to make those eight grabs on Monday night when the New England Patriots (9-3) face the Houston Texans (11-1) in a marquee AFC matchup.

After all, he’s averaging 7.3 receptions per game in his six seasons since being traded from Miami, and he traditionally comes up big in key games.

He could add that mark to a long list of accomplishments on Monday:

— Welker is tied with Rice in NFL history with 17 games of at least 10 catches.

— Welker is on pace to break a tie with Cris Carter as the only player to catch 120 passes in a season twice.

— Welker has the most receptions in the past six seasons (646), by a large margin over Brandon Marshall (565).

And what really matters is this. The Patriots have won six in a row and they are already AFC East champions as they welcome the conference’s top team.

“There’s nothing more important in Wes’s life than being a football player and thinking about football and making the big play and running the right route and getting open when it’s most important,” quarterback Tom Brady said. “That’s what quarterbacks dream about.”

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