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Bruised But Not Beaten: Tough Mentality Keeps Patriots’ Welker Going

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Patriots receiver Wes Welker shows off his black eye on Patriots GameDay (Photo by Joe Giza, WBZ-TV)

Patriots receiver Wes Welker shows off his black eye on Patriots GameDay (Photo by Joe Giza, WBZ-TV)

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BOSTON (CBS) – Patriots receiver Wes Welker is on the receiving end of some hard hits week in and week out.

While his production rarely waivers, his body certainly feels the aftermath of each and every Sunday. But that never seems to matter for the 5’9″ Welker.

In last week’s AFC Divisional Round, Welker hauled in eight catches for a team-high 131 yards as the Patriots beat the Houston Texans 42-28 to advance to their second straight AFC Title game. But he also walked away from Sunday’s game with a nice shiner under his left eye — a souvenir Welker doesn’t remember receiving.

It wasn’t until he got home Sunday night and his wife asked him about it that Welker found out about the black eye. And now that it’s fully showing itself in the week leading up to the AFC Championship tilt against the Ravens, it’s just another sign of Welker going all-out each and every time he steps on the field.

Tale Of The Tape: Patriots vs. Ravens

But if all those bone-crushing hits he takes during the season don’t slow him down, a simple shiner won’t either.

“I think a lot of it is just in my mind, knowing I need to be tough and need to fight through that stuff; fight through the hits and everything else.” the 5-9 Welker told WBZ-TV’s Steve Burton for Patriots GameDay airing on Sunday. “It’s served me well to take on that mentality. The other part is recovery; doing massages, doing the stretching, doing everything necessary. Whenever I’m not here I’m trying to do something to recover; doing all the things to make sure I’m at my best for practice and especially on Sunday.”

Welker Just Keeps Getting Up: 

Welker was once again at his best this season, leading the team with 118 receptions and 1,354 yards, and leading the NFL with 619 yards after all those catches. That last stat shows his mentality of fighting for every yard, as does the 72 first downs he picked up this season — first among Patriots receivers and sixth in the NFL.

But while he’s fighting for those extra yards, he’s also taking extra hits from the opposition. It’s not in Welker’s DNA to shy away from those blows, but it’s something his head coach and quarterback have brought to his attention.

“Yeah, we’ve talked about it before and Tom [Brady] and I have talked about it too. It’s a long season and every little hit adds up, so there are times where you have to know when the ride is over and get down and look to see another day and things like that,” Welker told the media on Thursday. “We’ve discussed it before but at the same time if you need to get a first down or whatever, you got to do what you got to do.”

Welker will be hit plenty of times this coming Sunday, with the hard-hitting Ravens looking for revenge from last year’s AFC Championship loss. But again, Welker is not one to shy away from the contact, and won’t be starting this weekend.

“Obviously they’re a great team, and we met each other in the playoffs quite a few times in the past few years and they are always tough games. They are tough, physical, hard-fought games,” said Welker. “They’re obviously a great team and we will definitely have our hands full this Sunday.”

Vote: Patriots vs. Ravens Battleground Map

Tune in to the AFC Championship game at 6:30pm on Sunday on 98.5 The Sports Hub, WBZ-TV, or LISTEN LIVE on CBSBoston.com! Pregame coverage begins on WBZ with Patriots GameDay at 11:30am, and at 3pm on 98.5 with Patriots Preview. Following the game, tune in to three hours of coverage on the Sports Hub, and to Patriots 5th Quarter over on myTV38.

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