Welker happy camper

Receiver upbeat about recovery

WES WELKER In the area for next month WES WELKER
In the area for next month (File/John Tlumacki/Globe Staff)
By Albert R. Breer
Globe Staff / May 23, 2010

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BRAINTREE — Wes Welker jogged around the turf at Thayer Academy without a hitch in his step, demonstrated drills for campers, and at one point even extended to make a leaping catch of a wayward throw.

Is Welker back to his old self? No.

But if anything was clear yesterday at his football camp, it’s that the Patriots slot receiver remains upbeat in the face of a laborious rehab, coming back from reconstructive knee injury and subsequent surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff.

And in that way, the story remains the same for Welker. Things are going according to plan, he’s persevering and, no, he’s not going to provide a timetable for a return.

“It’s way early,’’ he said. “We’ll see what happens. My plan is to keep working hard and keep doing the things I’ve been doing to get to where I am now, and just keep on doing that stuff.’’

Welker has spent a large part of this offseason in Southern California, where he receives one-on-one attention specific to his injury.

But he said yesterday the plan now is to break from that, and stay in the area to help his teammates, starting this week. Welker will be at the facility as the team kicks off OTAs this week and will be around through the full-squad minicamp June 15-17.

“If they want me here, I’m here,’’ Welker said. “If they’re good with me leaving and getting some work there, then I get my work there. They know me and they know I’m going to be working in whatever I’m doing.

“I think that’s pretty evident when they saw me that things have been moving along and we’ve been making progress.’’

The priority clearly remains getting as healthy as possible — Welker underwent the knee surgery Feb. 3 — but there are things the seventh-year receiver can do to help the team when he’s around.

“I’m going to be around here, in Boston, for the next month working and seeing the guys and watching the films and all the minicamps, critiquing guys and things we can do better, things that we can work on,’’ Welker said. “I’ll be more of the veteran type guy, hanging out, and rehabbing at the same time and doing all that stuff.’’

And when he hasn’t been around, he hasn’t been totally detached, either.

With Tom Brady spending considerable time in the Los Angeles area this offseason, he and Welker have worked out together periodically at UCLA. They’ve thrown the football, and Brady — who went through the same process, recovering from a torn ACL and MCL, a year ago — has been able to lend perspective.

“We talk quite a bit [about] feeling the same type of pains, the same type of things we went through from the start,’’ Welker said. “He’s like, ‘I remember at that time, I was doing this.’ It’s been good to have somebody make sure that all the stuff I’m feeling is right.’’

Welker later related to campers that he’s had highs and lows through his recovery.

But it seems like now the worst is behind him, and the lows have become a motivator. He won’t, for example, soon forget having to watch the Ravens bludgeon his teammates in the first round of the playoffs, powerless to do anything about it.

“It was tough to watch,’’ he said. “I think it makes you stronger for the next go-around and make sure you do everything possible to make sure you’re there, and you’re not having setbacks with injuries or anything like that.’’

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