Wes Welker Recovering Ahead of Schedule, Could Be Ready to Play in Week 1

The Patriots have to be pleased with Wes Welker's speedy recovery.

The wide receiver's rehab continues to be ahead of schedule, and he may be cleared for team workouts in training camp, Michael Lombardi reported Tuesday on NFL Network's Total Access.

Welker already has participated in OTAs and minicamp — playing catch and even running routes without any visible signs of the injury besides a knee brace.

"It's going good so far," Welker told the Providence Journal of his recovery back in May. "It's a long process, but I feel like we're making a lot of strides."

So far, there don't appear to be any unexpected setbacks in Welker's recovery, though he did spent a bulk of his time during OTAs and minicamp in individual activities.

While no date has been set for a return, given the progress Welker has made, he may be ready to go in the Patriots' season opener, according to The Boston Globe.

Taking into account the type of injury and its severity, the Globe speculates that the Patriots could place Welker on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list before training camp starts, making him eligible for the regular-season PUP, which would keep him off the field for six weeks.

But the Patriots also haven't ruled out that Welker will be ready to play in Week 1.

"If Wes Welker is able to play the first game, [if] he's there, he'll be healthy," wide receivers coach Chad O'Shea told the Journal a few weeks ago. "He'll have a role, just like our other players have a role. If Wes Welker is not there, we'll have other players that have certain roles that would do well within that role."

Welker's injury is similar to Tom Brady's in 2008, but in terms of recovery, the injuries are very different, the Globe reports. The fact that Welker's torn ligaments weren't a result of contact, and that his MCL tear could heal on its own before surgery makes for a simpler and faster recovery.

New England opens the regular season against Cincinnati on Sept. 12.

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