ey lost that day to the Texans and were demolished the next week by the Ravens in an AFC Wild Card game.
Those were some dark days for Welker.
"It was a lot of things,” he said. "What’s going to happen to me? How bad is it? What is it?”
Doctors soon determined that he’d torn his ACL and his MCL. Modern medicine has improved the way that the knee’s major stabilizing tendons are fixed — Welker saw that first-hand when Patriots quarterback Tom Brady recovered from a torn knee — but the injury is still one that every athlete fears.
For a receiver who depends on his ability to juke defenders and elude tacklers, the injury is even more worrisome.
Welker had surgery on Feb. 3.
Then, just as he was starting post-surgery rehab, he had another setback. He needed shoulder surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff.
Welker, like every football player, has gutted out many injuries and issues, aches and pains.
"Obviously, this isn’t something you can really just fight through,” he said. "You’ve got to go in stages. You’ve got to make sure you’re doing everything possible to heal the right way and make sure you’re ready to go.”
That’s what Welker is determined to do — work as hard to come back as he did to get there.
He works every day with his knee to increase his flexibility and improve his extension. Only three months after the surgery, he is already jogging again.
"I’m happy about where we are,” he said. "Hopefully, we can just continue to have positive days and keep moving forward.”
Some of his doubters have suggested there’s no way he will be ready for the Patriots’ season opener on Sept. 12.
Welker isn’t ready to target a date for his return.
"It’s so early right now, it’s hard to put any sort of timetable on it,” he said. "My main deal is just working hard and putting myself in the best position possible to be ready whenever I’m ready. No telling when that’s going to be or how long it’s going to take, but all I can do is just work hard.”
That’s all he’s ever done. Bust his tail. Push his limits. And in the process, he’s proven all his doubters wrong.
No reason to think this will be any different.
"Every day,” Welker said, "is looking a little bit brighter.”