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More Welker analysis? You got it!!!

Posted by Albert Breer  June 15, 2010 07:43 AM

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It's been some time since Welker and Rivers have talked, but the Chargers quarterback still remembers plenty about the plucky receiver he came in with as a Class of 2004 rookie, which is part of how he's built his opinion on this one.

"He's just a football player, and I think that's always the ultimate compliment you can give a guy and, certainly, you can say that about Wes," Rivers. "What he was, was the guy where you could tell him what to do and he would go right out and do it. He could play the 'Z', the 'X', the slot, return punts, kicks; He was so smart, and that's why he was quickly a team favorite in camp. Then he runs a punt back (in a preseason game), and you thought he was here to stay. But he escaped us.

"But he's just a super smart guy and a football player. The kind of guy you can't have too many of. ... You knew he wasn't going to be a practice-squad-and-fizzle-out guy. You knew he was going to be a player for all those reasons I mentioned, so versatile and so smart, and just that type of competitor."

As the story goes, the Chargers traded for Clinton Hart from the Eagles and had to make room, so they cut Welker, hoping he'd slip through the waiver wire and make it on to their practice squad. That didn't happen. He was scooped up by Nick Saban and the Dolphins, and the rest is history.

So, yes, Rivers has plenty of reason to believe in Welker. Woodson may not know Welker personally, or have shared a practice field with him, but he can see enough on tape to share Rivers' optimism.

"One thing to look for is whether he's going to be as sharp," Woodson said. "It's his left knee, so you watch how he plants and goes right. Does he favor it, or does he plant? Or does he plant with his inside foot and round it off? Can he stop on his left leg? Those are the questions.

"Once I saw (the video), I knew he blew out his ACL, but I also knew if he didn't damage the cartilage, he was gonna be OK because technology's so vastly improved. I know Wes is a tough, gritty guy. He's got that mentality. He's no diva receiver. Just tough and gritty and gets his work done. He's blue collar in that same category as Hines Ward, so I knew he'd be back."

What Woodson said is key, of course -- That Welker didn't damage the cartilage. Another piece of detail in the story today is that Welker's ACL graft came from his patellar tendon, which could cause some more pain in the short-term, but produce a better long-term result.

As you might expect, all eyes will be on Wes today. And we'll bring you a detailed report following the lunchtime practice session.
News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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