New England Patriots: Wes Welker Thriving in Offense Once Again

John DegrooteCorrespondent IIOctober 1, 2012

Wes Welker evades a defender Sunday against the Buffalo Bills
Wes Welker evades a defender Sunday against the Buffalo BillsTimothy T. Ludwig-US PRESSWIRE

After Week 1 of the NFL season, most New England Patriots fans were singing Rihanna's single, "Where Have You Been" when it came to Wes Welker and his role within the offense.

However, Welker has stormed back since and is now sixth among wide receivers in yards, averaging just under 100 per game.

Rumors of Welker's apparent demise and phasing out were greatly exaggerated, but I guess that is what happens after a contract dispute in the offseason and only three catches for 14 yards in Week 1.

More than a handful of news outlets had Welker on the road to obscurity after his lack of production in the first week of the season.

Vinnie Iyer at the Sporting News wrote:

The New England Patriots look like they're planning on not having wide receiver Wes Welker as part of their offense beyond 2012.

Austin Martin, a writer at SB Nation's Pats Pulpit site, didn't even think Welker was worth the franchise tag the Patriots slapped him with, saying:

I'm not trying to start anything, but again- value. What is Welker's value to the offense?

Welker's been to 2 Super Bowls in his five years, but has nothing to show for it. Not that any of the blame is on him, but would Lloyd have made "the catch?" Could Deion and Edelman replace him for snaps, for much less of a cost?

Greg A. Bedard may have been the most vocal, saying in his Boston Globe article:

After the Patriots' absolutely stunning - and, really, inexcusable - 20-18 loss to the Cardinals Sunday at Gillette Stadium, there can be no doubt: Welker was set to be phased out of the Patriots' offense.

After Welker had eight catches for 142 yards in Week 3 and nine catches for 129 yards in Week 4, it is safe to say that Welker's spot in the Patriots' receiving corps is pretty safe.

An argument can be made that the only reason Welker has seen an expanded role is because of injuries to tight end Aaron Hernadez and Julian Edelman, but things would have played out the same way even with those two in the lineup.

It would not make sense for the Pats to phase out a receiver who has had the most receptions in the NFL two out of the last three seasons, even if there was a dispute in the offseason about a contract.

Wes Welker is once again the Patriots' top wide receiver.