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Monday, October 10, 2011
Wes Welker to welcome back Orlando Scandrick

By Tim MacMahon



IRVING, Texas – Orlando Scandrick certainly won’t get an opportunity to ease his way back from an injury.

New England’s Wes Welker will welcome Scandrick when the Cowboys’ slot corner makes his comeback Sunday after missing three games with a high ankle sprain.

“It’s a huge challenge,” Scandrick said after practicing Monday for the first time since being injured in the season opener. “They said today he’s on pace for 2,600 yards or something crazy, but going into this game, I’m going to make him work. We’re going to see what happens. It’s going to be a great challenge.”

Actually, Welker is only on pace for 2,368 receiving yards this season. That, of course, would shatter Hall of Famer Jerry Rice’s NFL record by more than 500 yards.

Another way of putting Welker’s ridiculous production in perspective: He has more yards in five games (740) than Dez Bryant has in 15 career games (732).

“You should watch Wes Welker in practice,” said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett, who was the quarterbacks coach in Miami during Welker’s tenure with the Dolphins. “I think anybody, if you came from Mars and never saw football before, you’d say, ‘Wow, who’s that guy?’ Because he is 100 miles per hour every minute of every day. His success is not by accident.

“He’s a very talented player. Just because he’s small doesn’t mean he’s not talented. He is talented. He’s quick, he’s fast, he understands the game. He is a relentless competitor.”

Welker has been a chain-moving machine since he joined the Patriots in 2007, catching 432 passes for 4,536 yards over the previous four seasons. He’s become much more of a big-play threat this season, averaging 16.4 yards per catch, more than five yards better than his career average.

That average has been boosted by a 99-yard touchdown in Week 1 against the Dolphins and a critical 73-yard catch in last week’s win over the Jets.

“This is the first time he’s pretty much started running vertical,” Scandrick said. “A lot of people don’t expect him to run vertical, so when he runs vertical, it’s normally a big play.”

The challenge for Scandrick is to chip off the rust and be ready to compete against the league’s most productive receiver.