New England's favorite franchised man took the field in Foxboro yesterday, but it was the way he did it -- with a big smile -- that should add a cherry on top.

Welker could very well hold a grudge against the Patriots. He could hold out like many franchised players have in the past. He could demand more than the $9.5 million he's getting this season, with the rest of his career up in the air. But none of that has happened, as Tom Brady's favorite target is only thinking about mini-camp and taking the field with his teammates.

"It went pretty well," Welker said after the first day of camp. "We were able to get out there and really execute together and really work on some things. Overall I think it was a good day, we still have some work to do but I think it was a good start for us."

It wasn't Welker, but tight end Rob Gronkowski who got a fat contract extension last week (six years, $54 million -- time to party!). That didn't cause Welker, who insists Gronkowski deserves it, any bit of jealousy.


"I thought it was a great deal," Welker said. "You need a guy like that around here for a long time. And he's such a great player for us and having him around for a while is a great deal for us as an organization. So I'm very happy for him."

The Patriots have until July 16 to come to a long-term agreement with Welker, but neither side is giving it much thought - at least publicly.

"I'm not worried about that at all," Welker said. "Right now I'm here, and I'm happy, and you know, I'm just here to try to help our team win in 2012."

"It is what it is," Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said of the July deadline. "The rules are the rules. So whatever they are, we'll comply with them."

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