<
>

Welker: 'I'm making a lot of strides'

BRAINTREE, Mass. -- New England Patriots receiver Wes Welker isn't sure when his surgically repaired left knee will be healthy enough for him to return to action, but he remains pleased with his overall progress.

Welker has mostly been rehabilitating in California, and part of his work has been catching passes from quarterback Tom Brady once or twice a week. He wouldn't go into detail on how aggressive those workouts with Brady have been, but expressed optimism with how the knee has responded since he had surgery on his torn ACL on Feb. 2.

"It's going good so far. It's a long process but I feel like I'm making a lot of strides," Welker said Saturday at the Old Spice Wes Welker Football Camp. "It's gone as good as expected so far. Hopefully we stay on that track and keep on progressing every day."

Asked if it's too early to set a timetable for his return, Welker responded that it's "way early."

"We'll see what happens," he said. "My plan is to keep working hard and keep doing the things I've been doing to get to where I am now."

Those watching Welker on Saturday wouldn't have been able to tell he had surgery three-and-a-half months ago. Welker jogged from drill to drill, crouched into different positions, and ran short routes at a light pace as he was an active participant in the camp.

While working a football camp for 350 kids in May is a lot different than preparing for the season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sept. 12, teammate Julian Edelman was impressed.

"He's over here running around. He looks good to me," Edelman said.

As Welker rehabilitates, he said he feels fortunate to have Brady as a resource, especially since Brady went through a similar rehabilitation at this time last year.

"We talk quite a bit [about] feeling the same type of pains, the same type of things we went through from the start," Welker said. "He's like, 'I remember at that time, I was doing this.' It's been good to have somebody make sure that all the stuff I'm feeling is right."

Welker has been impressed with what he's seen from Brady in workouts.

"He looks really good. He's working hard, he's getting after it," he said. "It's always 'one more' with him. If it's not perfect, it's 'another one, another one.' He's like 'two more to this side' and I'm like, 'So that's about 10.' You love to see it, but at the same time, you're looking at your watch and like, 'My parking sticker is about to run out of time here. Let's go.'"

Welker never went back to watch the play in which he was injured in the season finale at Houston, saying there is "no sense of rehashing all that stuff," but added that he did see it because it kept appearing on ESPN highlights.

As for splitting time rehabilitating between California and Massachusetts, Welker said he's been willing to do whatever the team asks. When given the choice, he has rehabbed in California close to Brady, which the team has supported.

"They know me and they know I'm going to be working in whatever I'm doing. I think that's pretty evident when they saw me that things have been moving along and we've been making progress," he said.

Welker plans to stay in Massachusetts for the next month, with the Patriots beginning their organized team activities on Monday. A mandatory minicamp is scheduled for June 15-17.

"I think it's good to be here," he said. "I'm going to be around here working and seeing the guys and watching the films and all the minicamps, critiquing guys and things we can do better, things that we can work on. I'll be more of the veteran-type guy, hanging out and rehabbing at the same time and doing all that stuff."

Welker was asked if he expects to be nervous when he finally does return to the field.

"I don't think so," he responded. "I'm going to cut so many times before I actually get out there that I want to get to the point where I'm not even thinking about it, where it's second nature going out there doing my job to the best of my ability."

Mike Reiss covers the Patriots for ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter.