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When New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker made his first practice appearance in June during OTAs, his performance generated a lot of buzz. His performance in training camp thus far is no different.
By the time I arrived in New England, Welker's sharp route-running, his pass-catching on the fly and even his ability to absorb contact had already been widely reported. But Tuesday was going to be different. On Tuesday, Welker would face practice drills against a different team, the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints to be exact, that might not be inclined to take it easy on him. After all, who wants to get beat -- even in practice -- by the guy in the brace, the guy who's just seven months out from reconstructive knee surgery?
Let's put it this way. The buzz continues. Welker practiced fully with the first team in the morning, participating in a variety of drills including one-on-ones and 11-on-11s, even in the red zone. During the course of practice, the blue functional brace on his left knee was the only indicator Welker was still in recovery from a major injury. He moved with good lateral quickness in both directions and showed that he could cut both inside and out. He made grabs in the presence of contact and even made a couple of nice moves after the catch.