FOXBOROUGH - Bill Belichick reserves high praise for a handful of players in the NFL, but when it comes to Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware, he didn’t have a problem calling him the best player the Patriots will have seen this season.
When asked if Ware could be compared to Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor, whom Belichick coached with the Giants, the coach said he can see the similarities.
“Absolutely,’’ Belichick said. “Lawrence Taylor, you’re talking about a pretty high level, but Ware does all the things and he’s the best player that we’ve faced this year. He does all the things you want him to do.
“He’s strong against the run. He can rush the passer. He’s great at pursuit. He’s got power. He’s got speed. He’s got good technique. He’s good at pass coverage. He gets a lot of depth. He’s an asset to your pass coverage if you want to drop him.
“I can say all those same things about Lawrence Taylor.’’
Ware, who is in his seventh season, has to be accounted for at all times, Belichick said. He is part of a defense that Belichick described as quick and strong and able to shut plays down in an instant.
Logan Mankins said the Patriots are aware of the Cowboys’ speed.
“They’re real fast,’’ Mankins said. “It just means you’ve got to get blocks. The D-line is fast, the linebackers are fast. If you’re not blocking D-linemen, then you’re running a guy down, so you have to block through the entire play.’’
Offensive lineman Sebastian Vollmer (back) was limited yesterday in his first practice since Week 2. Vollmer was one of 10 players who were limited in the first practice of the week.
Safety Josh Barrett (thumb/hamstring), linebacker Jerod Mayo (knee), and defensive lineman Mike Wright (concussion) did not practice. Wright has not played since suffering a concussion in the season opener against the Dolphins. He was limited at practice twice last week but did not play against the Jets.
The following players also were limited: cornerback Leigh Bodden (thumb), safety Sergio Brown (chest), cornerback Ras-I Dowling (hip), wide receiver Julian Edelman (ankle), running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis (toe), defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth (back), tight end Aaron Hernandez (knee), wide receiver Matthew Slater (ribs), and running back Danny Woodhead (ankle).
Safety Patrick Chung (hand) and linebacker Dane Fletcher (thumb) fully participated.
Welker likes it here
Wes Welker is in the final year of his contract and is looking to remain with the Patriots.
“Of course I want to stay here, but as of right now I don’t really think about it,’’ Welker said in a conference call with Dallas media. “I just try to focus on this year and everything I can do to help the team this year.’’
Welker, who is on a record-setting pace this season, said he wouldn’t be the same receiver without Tom Brady.
“There’s no question,’’ Welker said. “I think in my time in Miami, I went through four or five quarterbacks and didn’t play as much. Being here with Tom, in this offense, I am not going to sit here and say I’d have the same numbers. No way.’’
Big fan of big man
Haynesworth has been a game-changing player with the Patriots, in the eyes of Cowboys coach Jason Garrett.
“I think he’s done an outstanding job for them,’’ Garrett said. “He’s a big body who’s very explosive. He’s strong. He’s quick. He can be a really disruptive force in the middle defense, both in the run game and in the passing game.
“You pair him with [Vince] Wilfork inside and they’re really a formidable duo, there’s no question about that. When he’s been out there playing, he’s playing very well, and he’ll be a great challenge for our football team.’’
Haynesworth played 21 snaps against the Jets in his first game back after missing two because of a back injury.
Yesterday, Haynesworth said he is feeling “OK’’ and is growing more comfortable in his role.
“I’m still trying to shake some things,’’ he said. “But as time goes, I’m feeling better and better and more comfortable in the whole scheme of things, what I’m doing.’’
Haynesworth went on to say that he’s not satisfied in his performance, and considers himself a bit of a perfectionist.
“Ask my mom,’’ he said. “I’ve had games when I was with the Titans, I had three sacks, a couple of tackles for loss, and things like that and she’s like, ‘You played great.’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, yeah, I played OK.’
“I want to be the best at what I do at all times, never want to slack. If I make a tackle for a 1-yard gain, it should have been for a 1-yard loss, and if I make a sack, I think I should have had a sack, a strip, and pick up the fumble.’’
The progress report on linebacker Brandon Spikes is trending toward positive, but Belichick said there is much for the 2010 second-round draft pick to work on as he tries to earn more playing time.
“He missed so much playing time, practice time, and play time during training camp and preseason, so these last three weeks kind of have almost been like his preseason, unfortunately,’’ Belichick said. “I think that practicing on a daily basis, playing on a regular basis, that’s what he needed to do.
“I think he still has a long way to go. He’s probably where a lot of our players were in September, just because he missed all of August. His timing, his overall reaction, his execution, all those things, they’re OK, they are coming along.’’
Welch added again
Offensive lineman Thomas Welch, who was waived Monday, was re-signed to the practice squad. He takes the spot vacated by safety Ross Ventrone, who was added to the 53-man roster last week.