While Wes Welker's injury has been compared most often to Tom Brady's (which isn't exactly correct), it's Brandon Tate that would probably know the most about what Welker's going through in coming back to the field.
After all, Welker and Tate play the same position, and so the physical demands on returning to form for Welker are probably somewhat like what Tate had to go through after shredding his ACL in 2008 at North Carolina. And so I asked Tate if he was surprised to see Welker out there when the vets started OTAs last week.
"Yeah, I was. I really was," he said. "But anything can happen. Heís gonna keep on working hard and Iím gonna keep on supporting him as a teammate."
Having been through it, though, tells Tate all he needs to know about his teammate's resolve. If he needed any reminder, that is.
"It tells me that Wes is working real hard," Tate said. "He already knows his situation, so heís gonna go out there and work hard and try to get back on the field. It lets me know that Wes is a warrior. He wonít let that get him down."
By the letter of the league's laws, coming off the PUP list, he had to stay out practice through Week 6, and played right after that against Tampa in London.
"When they cleared me, I was ready," Tate said. "The whole time I was off, I was trying to get everything back. And when they cleared me, I was ready to go, excited. ... When I first got out there, I had the mindset Ė Just forget about it, go out there and play. Thatís what I did."
But Tate, clearly, was impressed by what Welker's done to come back, which showed a player taking control of a bad situation created by circumstances so far out of his control.
"Itís real serious," Tate said of the injury. "Itís up to the person and their work ethic to see how bad they want. Are they gonna work hard and get it, or just lay around?"