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Welker's durability is a strong point.
New England implemented many changes to its offensive scheme for the 2012 season. It added a deep threat in Brandon Lloyd and have shown an established running game with second-year back Stevan Ridley.
However, no alteration to the offense was more pertinent to Welker's role than the use of the two-tight end format.
Both Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski are coming off of megadeals in the offseason. It seemed like the Patriots were preparing to transition into an offense centering around these two.
Hernandez, in particular, is a special threat because he can play the tight end position but is also often featured as a slot receiver.
His size—6'1'', 245 pounds—together with his quickness make him nearly impossible for an opposing linebacker to cover.
He, along with Julian Edelman, was taking snaps away from Welker.
Now, after the freak high ankle sprain to Hernandez, Welker returned to the primary slot receiver role in Week 3 against Baltimore. Even more, Edelman, who caught Tom Brady's only touchdown pass, left the game with a hand injury at the end of the second quarter and never returned.
It is hard to say whether these "breaks" that are giving Welker more playing time is beneficial to the Patriots. They are missing Hernandez, one of their strongest weapons, and the unknown extent of the injury to Edelman is unsettling.
It is comforting to know, however, that a player of Welker's caliber is there to fill the void. He stepped up in the clutch and proved there is no reason to phase out a receiver in the prime of his career.