I have a very mixed bag of emotions at the moment. It's no secret Wes Welker is my absolute favorite Patriot. His personal journey into the NFL was one of heart and determination. Thought too small by every college except one, Texas Tech saw something in Wes that gave them a reason to open a spot for the 5'9" player. The same happened in the NFL. Waived by the Chargers and picked up by Miami who ultimately never had the right makeup to take advantage of his unique skill set. Coming to New England, it was very clear we had something special, a talent not often seen on the gridiron. During Tom Brady's recovery, Wes was one of the most critical players on the team while Brady got his confidence back; those high percentage, low yardage receptions were important to Wonderboy's mental state.
As a huge fan of Welker's, I'm sick to my stomach about his injury. I "know" how much of a competitor he is and I'm sure he's beside himself at the thought of not being in uniform for the playoffs. Like every true competitor, he wants the ball in his hands all the time; guys like that think they're the best option for the team's success and he's no exception. That is why it's even more devastating to think he may be out for most, if not all, of 2010. Brady was injured at the beginning of 2008 and had a full year to recover. While mobility is important to a QB, it's far more important to a guy like Welker. Wes will never be a 40 yard burner; his legs are just to small for that. But he IS jack rabbit quick and that requires incredibly fast changes in direction. To say those changes in direction put a strain on his knees is an understatement. You can kiss 2010 goodbye for Wes. I'm sick.
Now, for those criticizing Belichick's decision to start many key starters inluding Wes, hindsight is 20/20. There's no way Belichick could've predicted such a devastating injury and given that it wasn't even the result of a hit, Welker could've done this on the practice field. I've said many times over the past week that some guys should be rested (Vince Wilfork), but the vast majority should see some time in a game, no matter how meaningless. Why? I'm a firm believer that rhythm is important to maintain and can be lost if not properly cultivated. This takes reps. Maybe not a game's worth, but certainly a few series. Resting key starters, especially those at skill positions, is too dangerous, IMO. Keep them on the field as long as is needed to maintain that rhythm.
I'm sick over this, but strangely focused on the task at hand: preparing for Baltimore. Is Welker's loss devastating to the team? Could it severely impact our chances of making a run of it? Absolutely. But Hoodie and his minions get paid to figure these things out. They will do what they can with what they have. Welcome to the meat grinder, Julian Edelman.
My thoughts are with Wes and his family while he works through this injury. As much as I'm depressed about the loss of his contributions to the team, I'm more concerned for his well being.
We're all thinking about you, Wes! Here's to a speedy recovery.