Rex: Patriots benched Welker out of respect

We didn’t hear from Bill Belichick at this morning’s coaches breakfast at the NFL owners meeting in New Orleans, but we did learn a few interesting Patriots tidbits from Jets coach Rex Ryan.

WelkerRyanESPN.com AFC East blogger Tim Ryan reports that Ryan saw the Patriots’ benching of Wes Welker for the first possession of January’s playoff game -- the result of Welker’s thinly-veiled jab at Ryan for foot-fetish videos allegedly starring Ryan’s wife -- as a sign of respect.

"It never surprised me," Ryan said. "It's not the Patriot way of doing things. So [Belichick] was upset about that. At the time, I was, like, that's pretty cool. It was kind of neat."

Ryan went on to reveal that he and Welker have traded some fun-spirited jabs at each other via text message for years.

"We text back and forth and rip each other back and forth before we ever play," Ryan said. "That's what we do. 'Who's going to be on me?' 'We're going to put [Jets nose tackle] Sione Pouha on you.'

"But we have fun with each other. Trust me, we've said a lot worse to each other than what was reported. But I think he just went public with those comments, and that's probably what upset Belichick."

Ryan had more to say about Belichick and also spoke about Pats quarterback Tom Brady ("You know he can't stand me"). Here's a sampling of some of the comments:

- On Belichick: "You know what's funny? We have conversations. We talk about baseball. We talk about anything. I personally like Belichick. And I have more respect for Belichick than any coach in this league, as you guys know. But again, I still want to beat him. And the fact that he's in our division -- I'm paid to beat him. ... They lost three games last year, two to us."

- On Brady: "One day, I expect him to roll out one time and just launch a ball at me and take the incompletion. That's what I worry about. I do like to play with him a little bit. But what a great quarterback."

- On why three-time Super Bowl champion Brady was only a sixth-round draft pick: "We all saw him run that 40. Oh my goodness, that's the slowest 40 I've ever seen in my life."

Read more from Graham on Ryan’s comments HERE.