|Reports: Welker undergoes shoulder surgery||03.12.10 at 10:52 pm ET|
Multiple outlets have reported that Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker recently underwent shoulder surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff.
Welker, who has led the NFL in receptions the last two seasons, suffered an injury to his left knee in the regular-season finale against Houston but has since undergone a procedure on his shoulder that could push back a possible return to the field.
The news was first reported on the Web site of blogger Seth Davis and later verified by ESPN.
The 5-foot-9, 185-pound Welker has been one of the most important parts of the New England offense since he arrived prior to the 2007 season. In that time, he has more receptions (234) than any player in the league, and has amazed his teammates and coaches with his grit and toughness.
“He’s just been such a big part of the offense since he’s been here,” said Patriots quarterback Tom Brady after a December win over Carolina where Welker had 10 catches for 105 yards. “Consistent, reliable, durable, explosive player. Catches the ball every time you throw it to him. He’s pretty awesome.”
While Davis’ report suggested that Welker would be out for the coming season, ESPN.com reported that the injury does not rule out Welker for the season. In fact, noted sports injury expert Will Carroll sounded an optimistic note when asked about the shoulder Friday night.
“It’s not that big a deal,” he said in an e-mail to WEEI.com. “I think they’re taking the chance to fix as much as they can. The delay probably means he’s off crutches and they can do this. I’m curious how and when he tore it, but it seems that if it happened during the season, then he was playing with it and not even showing signs. I certainly didn’t suspect it.
“[Brett] Favre had a rotator cuff tear at the end of ’08, had surgery and came back to play pretty well. [Former Bruins forward] Phil Kessel’s a local guy who had a similar issue in a contact sport and came back without problem. I just can’t see Welker missing a significant portion of the season [because] of this. The knee is still, to me, the primary issue.”
If Welker is sidelined for an extended stretch — many believe that the sort of knee injury Welker suffered against Houston could keep him sidelined until the midway point of the 2010 season — more of the burden would likely fall on Julian Edelman. Edelman, a converted college quarterback, saw extensive action as a slot receiver with the Patriots in 2009, finishing the season with 37 passes for 359 yards and a touchdown. With many of the elite free agent wide receivers already snapped up, New England would likely put more of an emphasis on finding a receiver in April’s draft.