All that doesn’t capture the significance of this step for Welker, though, who fought and clawed his way through the last six months to arrive at this point. Here’s what he had to say about it afterward …
Does this, in your mind, put this behind you?
I mean, it’s a step forward. I don’t know if we’re all there yet or anything like that but it’s a step forward and we got some plays out there and got some contact, which I haven’t had before, and it was good to have out there.
Decision on when he’d play?
We didn’t really talk about it till the day before the game, and even then we didn’t have anything set in stone. But I really wanted to play and really wanted to get out there and get the ball in my hands and try to make some plays out there and try to get everything out of the way of getting hit and things like that.
Safe to say you’re targeting Week 1?
Whatever the doctors and coaches have planned for me, that’s kind of a goal of mine, and I want to make sure that I’m giving myself every opportunity to get out there in Week One but at the end of the day it’s up to the doctors and coaches to make sure I’m ready for all that.
Were the pre-game jitters different?
It was a little bit different. The uncertainty of ‘Alright, here I go, I’m going back out there.’ You’re hoping for the best, and there’s some worries in your mind. But once I got out there, all that went away and I was just out there playing. That was good to see.
How about the hit on the screen?
That one looked a little worse than it really was. He got me pretty good, but it wasn’t too bad. I think the first catch I had was the worst of the hits I got. Good to get those.
Your plan for getting the brace off?
It’s there. I think it is what it is, and I’m working the best I can with it. But I will be excited to have it off. It does the job it needs to.
So there’s no time set?
I don’t know, there’s no timetable on it – just eventually.
What were you running on the first play?
That was just a little hook route. They were playing Tampa 2, so I turned it inside.
And the second one?
That was just a pop pass we have there, off the run fake.
How significant were those six snaps?
I think they’re really significant. This is something I’ve been working towards, really trying to get back, and then get back out on the field. To be able to do it here in the second preseason game is kind of a milestone for me, and something I’ve really been looking forward to, something I worked my tail off to get to this whole offseason. It was pretty significant to get out there and get those reps.
Did you ever have days where you’d wonder if it would come back?
I never really had that mindset, I never really thought like that. There were bad days, but it was never like a deal where I was like, ‘I’m never get back out there’ or ‘I don’t when it’s going to happen’ or really got down on it. I’d just take it one day at a time, and the next day feel better and roll with it, and push through those hard days.
Was it important to get game action before the regular season starts?
Absolutely. Any time you get out there in live game action, and get those butterflies going and get that feeling, it’s good to get in your routine. The preseason is good for that, even if it is just a few plays getting out there, it’s good to have.