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Wes Welker

Welker in December 2008
No. 83     New England Patriots
Wide receiver / Return specialist
Personal information
Date of birth: May 1, 1981 (1981-05-01) (age 28)
Place of birth: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Height: 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m) Weight: 185 lb (84 kg)
Career information
College: Texas Tech
Undrafted in 2004
Debuted in 2004 for the San Diego Chargers
Career history
 As player:
Roster status: Injured Reserve
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics as of 2009
Receptions     442
Receiving yards     4,809
Receiving touchdowns     16
Stats at NFL.com

Wesley Carter "Wes" Welker (born May 1, 1981 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma), is an American football wide receiver for the New England Patriots of the National Football League. He played college football at Texas Tech.

Despite being undrafted, Welker has had a successful career to date. Only one player in NFL history, Gale Sayers, had more all-purpose yards in his first three NFL seasons than Welker did with the Dolphins; Welker holds the Dolphins' all-time records for total kickoff returns, kickoff return yardage, and total punt returns. Welker, who led the league in receptions in 2007 (tied with T.J. Houshmandzadeh) and 2009, also holds the three highest single season reception totals in Patriots history,[1] and is the only receiver in NFL history to record at least 110 receptions in three consecutive seasons. He has also been selected to the Pro Bowl and/or All-Pro Team in each of his first three seasons with the Patriots.

Contents

Early years

Welker started his football career at Heritage Hall School in Oklahoma City, where he and Graham Colton were teammates. In his junior year, he helped lead his team to the 2A State Football championship over Tishomingo High School; in that game, Welker had three touchdowns, over 200 all-purpose yards, a 47-yard field goal, and an interception.[2] Also, in 1999 he was named The Daily Oklahoman All-State Player of the Year, and Oklahoma State Player of the Year by USA Today. Welker played in the 2000 Oil Bowl, scoring a 40-yard field goal for the Oklahoma team. Out of high school, Welker was not recruited much as he was considered to be too small to play at the college level. However, after a recruit at Texas Tech backed out of his scholarship, it was offered to Welker.[3] Said Welker of the experience:

"I was thinking I'd get a scholarship somewhere. When it didn't happen when it was supposed to, on signing day, I was pretty hurt by it. … In the end, I don't think I could've picked a better school than Texas Tech."[4]

At Heritage Hall, Welker was a prolific contributor on offense, defense, and special teams. As a running back, he scored 80 touchdowns (53 rushing and 27 receiving). As a defensive back, he had 190 tackles, 22 interceptions (three of which he returned for touchdowns), and nine fumble recoveries. As a punt returner, he scored seven touchdowns. As a kicker, he scored 35 field goals and 165 extra points; his longest field goal, 57 yards, actually exceeds the personal best of current Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski.[1][5]

College career

Welker's last minute signing proved to be a bonanza for the Texas Tech Red Raiders. Based on a highlight reel from high school, Welker earned the nickname "The Natural" before his freshman year for his versatility and big-game performances.[6][7] Over his four-year career, he had 259 receptions for 3,019 yards and 21 touchdowns, and 79 rushes for 456 yards and two touchdowns. He also scored eight touchdowns returning punts in his career, still tied for the NCAA record.[3] In 2003, Welker won the Mosi Tatupu Award, given annually to the best special teams player in college football. Welker is a member of Texas Tech's chapter of Phi Delta Theta fraternity.[8]

After his senior season at Texas Tech, Welker, who was not invited to the NFL Combine, went undrafted in the 2004 NFL Draft but ended up signing as a free agent with the San Diego Chargers.

Professional career

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Pre-draft

Pre-draft measureables[9]
Height Weight 40-yard dash 10-yard split 20-yard split 20 ss 3-cone Vert Broad BP Wonderlic
5-8¾ 195 4.65 x x 4.01 7.09 30" 9'05" x x
All data from Texas Tech Pro Day

2004 season

Despite making the Chargers' roster out of training camp, Welker was cut after the first week of the 2004 season and signed with the Miami Dolphins, where he was mostly used on special teams. Playing against the New England Patriots on October 10, Welker became the second player in NFL history to return a kickoff and a punt, kick an extra point and a field goal, and make a tackle in a single game. Then, on December 20, in a Monday Night Football game also against the New England Patriots, Welker returned a punt 71 yards to set up a touchdown.

2005 season

During training camp at the beginning of the 2005 season, Welker was promoted to the third wide receiver spot after Chris Chambers and Marty Booker. He finished the season with 29 receptions for 434 yards and no touchdowns. He also had 43 punt returns for 390 yards, a 9.1 average, and 61 kickoff returns for 1,379 yards, a 22.6 average. These ranked 11th and 20th in the NFL, respectively.

2006 season

After rumors that he would be cut during the preseason, Welker started off being the lone bright-spot of the struggling Miami Dolphins offense. Through five games, he netted a team-high 29 catches and team-high 299 yards. On October 8, he was a huge target for back-up quarterback Joey Harrington, recording a then-career high nine catches for 77 yards in a 20-10 loss to the New England Patriots. On the season, Welker had a team-best 67 receptions for 687 yards and one score. He returned 48 kickoffs for 1,048 yards (22.2 average) and 41 punts for 378 yards (9.2 average).

2007 season

Welker (right) being interviewed after the final game of the undefeated 2007 Patriots regular season

On March 1, the Dolphins offered Welker, a restricted free agent, a second-round tender (the second-lowest tender) of $1.35 million for a one-year contract. The New England Patriots, who were interested in Welker, had originally considered signing Welker, a restricted free agent, to an offer sheet which Miami would have had seven days to match; according to The Boston Globe, that sheet would have contained a poison pill provision which would have made the offer difficult for the Dolphins to match.[10] Ultimately, however, the Patriots decided not to use such an offer, and traded the Dolphins their 2007 second- and seventh-round draft picks for Welker.

Welker's first season as a Patriot eclipsed his best season as a Dolphin (2006); he bettered his totals for receptions, touchdowns, and yardage in his first ten games. In Week 1, he caught the first of the Patriots' record 75 touchdowns, equaling the one receiving touchdown he had scored in his three seasons with the Dolphins. He set career bests for yardage three times: in the Patriots' Week 6 win against the Dallas Cowboys, Welker had eleven catches for 124 yards and two touchdowns (all career bests); the next week, against the Dolphins, he had nine catches for 138 yards and two more touchdowns (the most receiving yards of any NFL player that week); and in Week 12, against the Eagles, he had 13 receptions for 149 yards. In Week 15, against the Jets, Welker reached 1,000 receiving yards for the first time in his career; in Week 16, against the Dolphins, he recorded his 101st reception of the season, tying the Patriots franchise record set by Troy Brown in 2001. In Week 17, against the Giants, he caught eleven more passes, setting the Patriots franchise record for catches with 112, and tying Bengals receiver T. J. Houshmandzadeh for most receptions in the 2007 NFL season. He also set an NFL record for most catches in a first season with a new team. Welker, who finished the season with 1,175 yards and eight touchdowns, received one vote for NFL Offensive Player of the Year, an award won by his quarterback, Tom Brady, and was voted to his first AP All-Pro Team (second team).

In his first two postseason games, Welker had 16 receptions for 110 yards and two touchdowns. He tied the Super Bowl record of 11 receptions in a single game in the Patriots' 17-14 loss to the Giants in Super Bowl XLII.[11]

2008 season

Despite the season-ending injury to Welker's quarterback, Tom Brady, he continued to amass receptions at the same pace through the first half of the season: through eight games, he had 56 receptions, but only one touchdown reception. He had six or more receptions in each of the Patriots' first 11 games, breaking Jimmy Smith's mark of eight games at the start of the Jacksonville Jaguars' 2001 season.[12]

Welker had the longest pass play of his NFL career in the Patriots' 48–28 victory over the Miami Dolphins in Week 12: on 2nd-and-8 from their own 15, Welker caught a 5-yard pass from Matt Cassel, before eluding a pair of defenders tip-toeing and running down the left sideline to the Miami 21, for a total of 64 yards, 59 yards after the catch.

Welker broke the 1,000-yard mark for the second consecutive season in Week 14 against the Seattle Seahawks, catching 12 passes for 134 yards, and catching a pass on the Patriots' two-point conversion. He finished the game with a league-leading 96 receptions, for 1,002 yards (ninth in the NFL, third in the AFC). Against the Oakland Raiders a week later, Welker became the first player in Patriots history, and the eighth in NFL history, to have back-to-back 100-reception seasons; the last player to do it was his teammate Randy Moss, while he was a Viking, in 2002 and 2003.[13]

Welker was fined $10,000 by the NFL for celebrating a December 21 touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals by lying down in the snow by the endzone and using his body to make a snow angel, violating a recent NFL rule change making going to ground after a touchdown unsportsmanlike conduct.[14]

Wes Welker was selected to attend the 2009 Pro Bowl as a reserve,[15] and was again named to the AP All-Pro Second Team.[16]

2009 season

Welker was sidelined in Weeks 2 and 3 (against the New York Jets and Atlanta Falcons, respectively) with a knee injury; rookie wide receiver Julian Edelman took his place in the lineup. In the October 18 (Week 6) game against the Tennessee Titans, Welker caught 10 passes for 150 yards, a new career high (at the time), and two touchdowns. The second of those touchdowns was Tom Brady's NFL record fifth touchdown in a single quarter.

Welker set career marks again in the Patriots' Week 11 rematch against the Jets: targeted 17 times, he caught 15 passes—at the time the highest single-game total for any player in the NFL in 2009—for 192 yards, and added 11 rushing yards on a reverse. In Week 13 against the Dolphins, Welker recorded 167 receiving yards to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark for the third straight season. Against the Miami Dolphins in Week 13, Welker tallied 167 yards on 10 catches, including a season long 58-yard reception over the middle.

In the Patriots' Week 14 win at home against the Carolina Panthers, Welker caught 10 passes (out of 19 total completions for Brady) for 105 yards. This gave him 105 receptions in just 11 games and Welker currently leads the NFL in receptions. The performance also made Welker only the fourth receiver in NFL history (after Jerry Rice, Herman Moore, and Marvin Harrison) to catch 100 passes in three consecutive seasons.

In Week 16, Welker caught 13 passes, giving him 7 games with double digit receptions. This gave him the record for most double digit reception games in a single season, passing Marvin Harrison. He accomplished this despite missing two games earlier in the season.

In a Week 17 loss to the Houston Texans, Welker suffered a knee injury in the first quarter while running upfield after his only reception of the game. He tore his MCL and ACL in his left knee and was placed on injured reserve on January 6, 2010.[17]

Welker finished the season with a league-high 123 receptions, the second-highest total in NFL history, and finished second in yardage, behind Houston's Andre Johnson. He was also selected to represent the AFC in the Pro Bowl for the second consecutive year, and, for the first time in his career, was named to the All-Pro First Team. Due to Welker's injury he could not play in the Pro Bowl, and was replaced on the Pro Bowl roster by teammate Randy Moss.

Charity

In 2007 Welker established the 83 Foundation (after his uniform number in Miami and New England) to encourage youth athletics. The foundation, renamed the Wes Welker Foundation in December 2009, claims its goal is "to influence at-risk youth, by encouraging their full potential through athletics and positive role models." Its work primarily benefits schools and other organizations in Welker's hometown, Oklahoma City.

References

  1. ^ a b "Wes Welker - Official New England Patriots Biography". New England Patriots. http://www.patriots.com/team/index.cfm?ac=playerbio&bio=31608. Retrieved 2009-12-29. 
  2. ^ Back in Oklahoma, story of Welker's rise to glory is often told
  3. ^ a b "Greatest Tech athlete poll: Wes Welker and Zach Thomas profiles". The Daily Toreador. March 26, 2007. http://media.www.dailytoreador.com/media/storage/paper870/news/2007/03/26/Sports/Greatest.Tech.Athelete.Poll.Wes.Welker.And.Zach.Thomas.Profiles-2790280.shtml?reffeature=htmlemailedition. 
  4. ^ "Patriots' Welker goes from bit player to center stage". USA Today. January 28, 2008. http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/patriots/2008-01-28-welker-cover_N.htm. 
  5. ^ McCabe, Jim (2007-12-03). "Yes Welker". The Boston Globe. http://www.boston.com/sports/football/patriots/articles/2007/12/03/yes_welker/. Retrieved 2010-01-11. 
  6. ^ "Early frustration couldn't stop Welker's emergence". USA Today. November 23, 2007. http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/patriots/2007-11-23-sw-wes-welker_N.htm. 
  7. ^ "The Natural: Welker goes from unknown to irreplaceable". The Eagle-Tribune. November 18, 2007. http://www.eagletribune.com/pusports/local_story_322093916?keyword=secondarystory+page=0. 
  8. ^ "Phi Delta Theta Athletics". Phi Delta Theta. http://www.phideltatheta.org/index.php?Itemid=129&id=24&option=com_content&task=view. Retrieved 2010-01-11. 
  9. ^ NFL Draft Scout
  10. ^ Reiss, Mike (2007-10-17). "How Patriots grabbed wide receiver Wes Welker from Dolphins". The Boston Globe. http://www.boston.com/sports/football/patriots/articles/2007/10/17/patriots_pounced_fast_to_grab_welker. Retrieved 2010-01-11. 
  11. ^ "Welker ties Super Bowl record with 11 catches". Associated Press. Sporting News. 2008-02-04. http://www.sportingnews.com/yourturn/viewtopic.php?t=346942. Retrieved 2010-01-11. 
  12. ^ "Patriots vs. Bills game notes". New England Patriots. 2008-11-09. http://www.patriots.com/news/index.cfm?ac=latestnewsdetail&pid=35042&pcid=47. Retrieved 2010-01-11. 
  13. ^ Dzen, Gary (2008-12-14). "Some first-half notes". Boston.com Reiss' Pieces. http://www.boston.com/sports/football/patriots/reiss_pieces/2008/12/some_firsthalf.html. Retrieved 2010-01-11. 
  14. ^ "Pats' Welker fined for TD antic". ESPN.com. 2008-12-24. http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=3792441. Retrieved 2009-01-11. 
  15. ^ "Welker and Gostkowski selected to Pro Bowl squad". New England Patriots. 2008-12-16. http://www.patriots.com/search/index.cfm?ac=searchdetail&pid=35778&pcid=47&rss=1. Retrieved 2010-01-11. 
  16. ^ Gasper, Christopher L. (2009-01-10). "Gostkowski named All-Pro". The Boston Globe. http://www.boston.com/sports/football/patriots/articles/2009/01/10/gostkowski_named_all_pro/. Retrieved 2009-05-21. 
  17. ^ Kilgore, Adam (2010-01-04). "A mess in Texas". The Boston Globe. http://www.boston.com/sports/football/patriots/articles/2010/01/04/a_mess_in_texas/. Retrieved 2010-01-04. 

External links


Simple English

Wes Welker
File:Patriotsgiants
Wes Welker (right) being interviewed after the final game of the undefeated 2007 regular season
No. 83     New England Patriots
Wide Receiver/Return Specialist
Personal information
Date of birth: May 1, 1981 (1981-05-01) (age 29)
Place of birth: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Height: 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m) Weight: 185 lb (84 kg)
Career information
College: Texas Tech
Undrafted in 2004
Debuted in 2004 for the San Diego Chargers
Career history
 As player:
Career highlights and awards
  • 2003 Mosi Tatupu Award Winner
  • All-Pro selection (2007)
  • 2007 New England Patriots 12th Player Award
  • 2007 NFL receptions leader (112) (tied)
  • 2008 Pop Warner Inspiration to Youth Award

Career NFL statistics as of Week 17, 2007
Receptions    208
Receiving Yards    2,296
Touchdowns    9
Stats at NFL.com

Wesley Carter Welker (born May 1 1981, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma) is an American football wide receiver for the New England Patriots of the National Football League.


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