By: Ian Logue
So far through four games, Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker is on pace for a record breaking season after yet another big afternoon against the Raiders during New England’s 31-19 win over Oakland on Sunday.
Welker’s off to a record setting start this season. (FILE:Icon/SMI)
Welker accounted for 9 of Tom Brady’s 16 completions, amassing 158 yards along with a touchdown, which helped him continue his record pace that he had been on through their first three games.
After today’s game against Oakland, he’s now caught 40 passes for 616 yards and five touchdowns. At this pace, he’ll finish with 160 catches along with 2464 yards, and 20 touchdowns. The NFL record for catches is 143, which was set by Colts receiver Marvin Harrison in 2002. The record for total yards in a season is 1,848, which is held by Jerry Rice – a record he set back in 1995 with the 49ers.
They say it takes at least a year coming off of a knee surgery to get back completely to where a player was before the injury. So far, Welker appears to be on his way to being even better than he was prior to getting hurt, and said after Sunday’s game that part of his play stems from the fact that he’s putting as much work in as possible, and he takes his job extremely seriously.
“I feel like this is the best I’ve ever felt, this is the best I’ve played in my career,” said Welker. “So I think just my attitude towards the game and the work I put into it on a daily basis, and understand that this is my job and taking it very seriously, and training and everything that I’ve been able to do has helped out this year.”
As it stands right now, Welker is on the verge of completely destroying what was quite a performance by former Patriots receiver Randy Moss in 2007, where he recorded 98 catches for 1,493 yards.
His quickness has been an attribute that has clearly been something that’s just been amazing this season. Even knowing he’d be facing man to man coverage Sunday against the Raiders, Oakland’s secondary couldn’t stay with him and Welker had no issue getting separation. Brady targeted him an amazing 14 times during the contest, missing him just 5 times, a couple of which were over thrown and not an issue of him not being open.
The next closest receiver was Chad Ochocinco, who caught 2 passes for 26 yards. Otherwise it was simply all Welker.
“They’re a big [man to man coverage] team,” said Welker. “So I knew that we had to come to play and make sure that we beat man coverage and get open, and make some plays in the passing game. They’re so good inside that it’s key that we make some of these plays.”
Welker said after Sunday’s game that one of the biggest things he’s done is he’s definitely been more aware of what he does and how he eats, which he says is one of the reasons why he’s been much quicker and is doing the things that fans are watching each week.
“I don’t know what I’ve averaged to this point or anything like that,” said Welker. “But I feel like my speed is definitely something I’ve worked on this offseason, and my dieting, and everything I’ve tried to do to be the best football player I can be out there.”
When asked about what he’s taking in, Welker said “it’s the good stuff”, and that when you’re playing at his level, you obviously have to be a little more disciplined about what you eat.
“I mean just what you put in your body,” said Welker. “The different stuff of… the good stuff. You don’t put regular unleaded in a jet engine.”
A reporter joked that fans probably won’t see him in line at Dunkin’ Donuts anytime soon.
“Yeah, exactly,” laughed Welker. “They have the egg white sandwiches now, so….”
Following the game Brady called Welker the “heart and soul” of this team, but as fun as it’s been for Welker, he’s perfectly happy if the rest of the guys are able to get more involved. As they come home to face the Jets in Foxboro next Sunday, Welker knows that the more guys that are catching passes for them offensively, the better off they’re going to be next week. Not to mention the rest of the season.
“I mean it’s great and everything, but I think we have a lot of guys that bring a lot of heart and a lot of soul to this team on a daily basis, and that’s what it’s about. And the more guys we get on that wagon the better off we’re going to be.”