Wes Welker‘s past and present will come full circle Sunday, when the New England Patriots visit Denver for the AFC Championship Game against the Broncos. The receiver didn’t exactly expect things to turn out this way when he left New England last offseason, though.
Welker, 32, signed with the Broncos after coming to an impasse on contract negotiations with the Patriots. Welker knew he was signing with a top Super Bowl contender, but he admits he didn’t expect to play his former team come January.
“No, I had no idea,” Welker said, per the New York Daily News. “I came here and knew we would have an opportunity to be in the situation and was trying to make the most of it.”
Welker didn’t mention Bill Belichick, Tom Brady or the Patriots by name Monday, but he didn’t sound like someone holding a grudge. Instead, he seemed to be avoiding giving any bulletin-board material.
“It’s the AFC Championship Game. There’s going to be plenty of juice,” Welker said. “It doesn’t get any bigger than that.”
After sitting out the Broncos’ final three regular-season games with a concussion, Welker returned Sunday with a huge helmet and a modest performance. Welker caught six passes for just 38 yards, including a 3-yard touchdown, in a divisional-round win over the San Diego Chargers. The normally sure-handed receiver did miss out on another score on a difficult catch that might have some Patriots fans reminiscing about a certain missed opportunity in Super Bowl XLVI.
Welker caught just four passes for 31 yards during the Broncos’ 34-31 overtime loss to the Patriots earlier this season. He’ll likely need to do much more the second time around if Denver hopes to reach its first Super Bowl since 1998.