Wes Welker returned from his knee injury sooner than many expected, but it doesn’t mean he is the same receiver who hauled in 346 receptions for the Patriots the last three seasons.
That’s no surprise, and quite frankly, I’d be skeptical if he said he was.
Having been through a similar injury, as well as two other torn ACLs, I can attest a knee is never the same after such surgeries, despite advances in medical technology and rehab techniques. A player can return to similar form, but is rarely ever exactly the same.
Welker is expected to be in the huddle for the team’s season opener after playing in three preseason games, but offered the assessment to Albert Breer of The Boston Globe that he isn’t 100 percent.
“I still feel like I’m a long ways off from that personally,” Welker said. “People say it looks the same. I don’t feel the same. So I’m not gonna put a number on myself.”
A less-than-100-percent Welker still helps the Patriots, but expectations might need to be re-assessed. At least in the short-term. Don’t discount the positive reviews — including those from Tom Brady — on Brandon Tate this preseason. He could be a factor.