- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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Wearing a black brace over his left knee, he went through a similar workout with the team Monday.
"I didn't think it would be that big of a deal," Welker told reporters after the Patriots' organized team activity Monday at Gillette Stadium. "I felt like I've been pushing it and trying to get ready, and get out there with my teammates."
Similar to last Wednesday, when Welker had cameras clicking at his surprise appearance at practice, he went through about 20 minutes of work with his teammates Monday. He sprinted through agility drills, navigated his way around orange cones and caught passes from quarterback Tom Brady while running specific routes at three-quarters speed.
"Just getting out there with my teammates, getting as many reps as I can, and trying to gain a little muscle memory," he explained.
When the Patriots went to full-team work, Welker retreated to the team's indoor practice facility, working with members of the training staff. He returned to the practice field toward the end of the session and was soon swarmed by about 30 reporters as he walked off the field.
Welker said he is "not really" surprised at his progress from Feb. 2 surgery to repair a torn ACL in his left knee.
"I've been trying to push it since Day 1 and get back as early as possible, back out there with my teammates," he said.
Welker deflected a question on whether he thinks it's realistic that he might be ready for the regular-season opener Sept. 12 against the Cincinnati Bengals.
"I want to get back as early as possible, and whenever that is, is when it is," he said. "My main goal is just working hard and getting back with my teammates as soon as possible."
Asked if his challenge is more mental than physical at this point, as it relates to his confidence, Welker said: "I always feel confident. I wouldn't be out there if I didn't feel confident. I know the coaches and teammates have confidence in me, just like I do them. We're just going to move along as quickly as we can."
Welker tore his ACL and damaged his medial collateral ligament, which didn't require surgery, without being touched when he planted his left leg after a short reception, his NFL-leading 123rd of the year, on the Patriots fourth offensive play of a 34-27 loss at Houston on Jan. 3.
The next day, coach Bill Belichick said, "Wes is a great competitor. And I'm sure that, whatever [the injury] is, he'll work hard as he always does to bounce back."
He apparently has.
"I feel good," Welker said, "just trying to work hard and from day to day, just get better. That's been my plan from the get-go. I'm sticking to that plan."
Mike Reiss covers the Patriots for ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter. Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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