It's pretty hard to shoehorn a timetable out of anyone on Wes Welker's recovery from ACL surgery. So what you're left to do is assemble the puzzle pieces and come up with what you can.
That's just what I tried to do in reporting this story for today's Boston Globe. Here's some bullet-points on what I learned along the way:
* Tom Brady and Welker's respective knee surgeries were quite different. While it had been reported widely that Brady's MCL healed on its own, I was told that was not the case. His MCL was torn in an area where it couldn't heal naturally to the bone, and needed to be surgically repaired. And Brady's Posterior Medial Capsule needed to be fixed as well. That makes Brady's quick return all the more remarkable and puts in context how Welker's recovery is less complicated.
* Welker's return to the field, even in a limited capacity, on Wednesday was very, very noteworthy. But it wasn't quite the shocker that I thought it was, or a lot of other people thought it was. One source with knowledge of Welker's situation said: "it?s a great sign that he was out there able to participate at that level. It means that he?s recovering very nicely."
* Given that the MCL was healed by the time the surgery was done on Feb. 2, and that Welker was moving like that (Thanks to NESN for that video) on June 2, it's not unrealistic to think Welker could be in uniform on Sept. 12 against the Bengals. Dr. James Gladstone, co-chief of sports medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, said, "That would be good for anyone to get back that quickly, sure. But if he?s doing the things you?re describing at four months, then it?s quite possible, if not likely."
* The greater question really isn't whether he can return to the field. It's whether he can regain his prior level of performance. Here's the American Journal of Sports Medicine report I referenced in the story.
Anyway, so the bottom line here is that having Welker back for Week 1 is very plausible. The larger question really is how close the new Welker is to the old Welker. We'll have to wait and see on that.