FOXBORO, Mass. — Now that Wes Welker is a full season removed from a devastating knee injury, the Patriots wide receiver feels like he's back at the top of his game. Yet, he's not concerned with the fact that he's in a contract year.
When the Patriots locked up left guard Logan Mankins last week, Welker became the marquee name on the list of players who could be in line for a new deal. So far, there hasn't been any indication that the two sides are working toward an extension, and that's fine with Welker.
"No, I'm not really worried about that at all," Welker said. "I'm just worried about going out there and playing ball. I love playing on this team, and I enjoy every day that I'm out here. I'm going to let my play take care of everything else."
Welker has looked good in training camp, and he is in the midst of his best stretch of practices. It's no wonder that the rest of the offense has followed suit and improved its efficiency in that time.
The 30-year-old has especially stuck out to those in the organization.
"He always competes," said director of player personnel Nick Caserio, who regularly attends practice. "He always works hard. It looks like his quickness level, he's regained some of that relative to where it was. Wes works hard, he's been a productive player and he just looks confident. He just sort of catches your eye a little bit. He's done some things that look real good."
Welker returned quicker than anticipated last season, participating in the majority of the Patriots' offseason camps and playing in the first 15 games of the regular season before resting during the finale. His statistics dipped to a four-year low with New England, as he only caught 86 passes for 848 yards. However, Welker did haul in seven touchdown receptions, the second most of his career.
With Welker's confidence, he could reach the 100-catch plateau for the fourth time in his career.
"I feel great," Welker said. "I feel I've gained a step from two years ago. This is the best I've felt in a long time, and I want to continue to play well, continue to get better and do the things to help the team win."
Despite turning 30, Welker scoffed at the notion that he could be on the downside of his career. In fact, he thinks he's still playing at his highest level.
"That's my honest opinion. That's honestly how I feel," Welker said. "I feel like I've worked hard. As long as you're working hard and getting better on a daily basis, there's no telling where the curve is as far as the backside of your career. For me, I feel like I'm still in my prime."