Is Wes Welker's role being reduced?

Our friend and colleague Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com does a great charting of plays weekly for the New England Patriots.

This weekend against the Tennessee Titans, there was something that really stood out with New England’s offense: Pro Bowl receiver Wes Welker only played in 64 percent of the snaps (43 of 67). In addition, Welker split reps with backup slot receiver Julian Edelman, who played in 23 of 67 snaps.

Is Welker's role being reduced?

As Reiss points out, Welker played in 89.2 percent of New England's offensive plays in 2011. His snaps in Week 1 were down by 25 percent compared to last season. Welker only had three catches for 14 yards. Was this just a singular gameplan this week or a sign of things to come for Welker in 2012?

Welker, 31, is playing on a one-year franchise tag. After signing both tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez to contract extensions, it’s looking more and more like Welker will be the odd man out in 2013. Perhaps it’s already showing up in the gameplan.