But whatever he does, it’s with being at his best on Sept. 12 in mind. And that’s been his approach for quite some time.
Yesterday, in advance of tonight’s preseason opener, I caught up with the man who directed Welker’s rehab — Utah-based specialist Alex Guerrero — and you can can read about that talk into today’s Globe. That name sound familiar? It should. Guerrero also directed the rehab of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady a year ago.
Some significant points from Guerrero … 1) Welker started running routes at full speed with Brady throwing to him in mid-April. Remember, it wasn’t until late May that we saw him at OTAs. … 2) Welker would not be at any more risk entering a football game now than any other player. … 3) Welker’s torn rotator cuff and subsequent surgery hasn’t hindered his ACL rehab and, now that it’s recovered, isn’t a problem at all any more. … 4) Welker passed the Patriots’ physical in his first crack at it. … 5) Welker’s next step is to shed the brace protecting his left knee, and the hope is to do that before the regular season begins. … 6) The hope is to get him enough preseason action to have him comfortable going into the Bengals game.
Check out the story for more detail on all this. What you don’t need to read much more on to know, though, is that Welker’s toughness and drive in this process has been beyond reproach. One thing it’s not is unique. In fact, Guerrero saw another athlete taking the same attitude to work last year. Yes, while Brady and Welker’s injuries had some pretty serious distinctions from one another, their respective approaches didn’t.
“They really did,” Guerrero said, asked if they showed similar determination. “They’re very similar. Both are very mentally tough and physically tough. They just … Sometimes, you have to slow them down. You have to do it, but they’ll say, ‘No, one more.’ And then I’d say no, and they’re like, ‘Come on.’
“They’re both very similar in that way. There’s a reason why they’re both such great athletes.”
Anyway, if Welker is playing tonight — and Guerrero wouldn’t tip his hand on that one — the trainer did bring some insight into what to watch, and it’s different than it was with Brady. Since Brady’s injury was contact-induced, you had to watch how he’d take hits and react to people crawling around near his legs. In Welker’s case, it’s worth keeping an eye on him in the open field, making similar movements to one in which his knee buckled.
Either way, all of this is really something to see.