Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker had a more-than-understandable statistical shortage in 2010, as he worked to get himself back on the field after suffering an ugly knee injury in the 2009 season finale.
Early indications insisted Welker might not be ready to suit up for the beginning of the 2010 regular season, but he participated in the majority of the Patriots' organized team activities, minicamp and training camp before busting out with an eight-catch, two-touchdown season debut against the Bengals.
However, it wasn't always so easy for the game's best slot receiver.
Now, a year and a half removed from the injury, what can the Patriots expect from Welker in 2011?
Welker was a bit streaky last season, as he worked to get his legs back and adjusted to playing with a knee brace. He had 33 receptions through five games, 11 catches over his next three games, 36 receptions in his next five games and then six catches in his last two games before sitting out the regular-season finale.
On the whole, Welker had 86 catches for 848 yards, which were far and away his lowest marks since joining the Patriots in 2007. In his first three seasons in New England, Welker averaged 115 receptions and 1,229 yards. Yet, it's also worth noting that Welker had seven touchdowns in 2010, which equaled his number from 2008 and 2009 combined.
Welker could have been affected by the trade of Randy Moss, who was often double-teamed, but the knee likely played the greatest role in his statistical drop-off.
However, Welker was typically the primary focus for defenses that suffocated him over the middle, resulting in an apparent increase in dropped passes.
Because Welker's knee should be back to 100 percent this season, it's reasonable to expect his stats to soar. He might not reach his average from his first three seasons in New England because the Patriots offense is a little more balanced, but 100 receptions, 1,000 yards and five touchdowns are some good benchmarks.
Jeff Howe will answer one Patriots-related question every day through Aug. 1.
Monday, July 25: Are the Patriots still the class of the AFC East?
Wednesday, July 27: Is the offense trending toward the ground game?
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