BOSTON (CBS) – Wes Welker is off to one of the best starts of his career, and the New England Patriots are reaping all the benefits.
In the Patriots 31-19 win over the Oakland Raiders, Welker hauled in nine catches for 158 yards and a touchdown.
“Every time I go out there I expect to do well; catch the ball and move the ball, try to help the offense move the ball down the field. That’s my goal,” said Welker after the win.
He is now up to 40 receptions on the season and already has five touchdowns, the third most of his career. With 616 receiving yards, Welker is on pace for 2,464 yards. The record for most yards in a season is Jerry Rice’s 1,848 in 1995.
Although that pace is unlikely to keep going, none of Welker’s production so far this season comes as a surprise to his teammates.
“Nothing surprises me with Wes,” said quarterback Tom Brady, who threw Welker’s way 14 times on Sunday. “He’s the heart and soul of this team. He’s been that way since he’s got here. He works his tail off and he’s a great player; a great teammate. He’s become a dynamic player over the years. He’s clutch, tough, mentally tough, and physically tough. He’s awesome.”
Tom Brady With High Praise For Wes Welker
“It’s great and everything, but I think we have a lot of guys that bring a lot of heart and soul to this team on a daily basis,” said Welker. “The more guys we have on that wagon, the better off we’re going to be.”
Welker, of course, wouldn’t take all the credit for his great start.
“It’s running good routes and getting open and getting an opportunity. Tom throwing good balls and moving the ball down the field. It’s a combination of a lot of things,” he said.
Welker gives it 110-percent on every play, and is not afraid to take a hit either. There is no change in his approach, whether it be the first practice of training camp or final play of the season.
“He shows up every single day being the best that he can be. He sets a great example for every payer; every veteran player, every young player, every coach,” said Brady. “He never takes a day off, never takes a practice off, never takes a play off; run or pass.”
“He never complains and he’s a hell of a player. I love being out there with him,” said the Pats quarterback.
Even the Patriots defense, who get to see Welker in action first-hand during practice, shares that sentiment.
“He’s a hell of a player. I’m glad he’s on our side,” said defensive lineman Vince Wilfork.
After suffering a torn ACL and MCL in the 2009 regular season finale, Welker had an “off” 2010 campaign. It was his first season in a Patriots uniform with less than 100 receptions and under 1,000 receiving yards.
But all of that is behind him, and Welker says he is feeling the best ever over his NFL career.
“To me I feel like I’m past that,” said Welker of the injury. “This is the best I’ve ever felt, the best I’ve played in my career. Just my attitude toward the game and the work I put into it on a daily basis, just understanding this is my job and taking it very seriously.”
Welker worked on his speed, which he called deceptive, in the offseason and is glad it is showing on the field.
He also said part of his speed comes from his diet, but would not go into much detail about it.
“The good stuff; you don’t put regular unleaded in a jet engine,” he joked.
With 5,152 receiving yards with the Patriots, Welker is now fifth on the team’s all-time list.