Wes Welker Injury: Will Neck Injury Curtail Welker's Production in the Slot?

Eitan KatzAnalyst IISeptember 2, 2011

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 25:  Wes Welker (#83) of the New England Patriots runs with the ball during the NFL International Series match between New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Wembley Stadium on October 25, 2009 in London, England. This is the third occasion where a regular season NFL match has been played in London.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker is one of the toughest players in the league. There aren't many guys who can come back from an ACL/MCL tear in only six months and proceed to catch 86 passes for 848 yards and seven touchdowns.

This year, people are questioning his ability to produce following a neck injury he endured in the Pats' third preseason game versus the Detroit Lions.

Considered one of the most consistent and scrappiest wideouts in the NFL, Welker should have little reason to worry about the stinger.

Wes is a ridiculous competitor and he has always displayed the determination and grittiness that one would expect out of a top receiver. He has missed only four games since 2005 (including playoffs), while leading the NFL in receptions in 2007 (tied) and 2009.

The highly-regarded 30-year-old out of Texas Tech is superstar quarterback Tom Brady's favorite receiver.

Welker can catch practically any ball and he can run nearly every route. His talent, mixed with Brady's trademark accuracy, led to the speedy receiver's unbelievable run from 2007-2009 when he became the first player in NFL history to record 110-plus receptions in three straight seasons.

In fact, no other player has even recorded more than 110 catches three times in their entire career.

That includes San Francisco 49ers great Jerry Rice.

The game just comes easy for Welker.

Wes has been lauded for his versatility—he has played receiver, running back, kick returner, punt returner and even kicker—and through hard work, he has actually become one of the game's premier players. Welker is Brady's go-to-guy on all third downs and has even recently established himself as a red-zone target, despite his minuscule 5'9", 185 lbs frame.

Mike Reiss from ESPNBoston.com reported last night that the fact Welker "dressed" for the preseason matchup against the New York Giants suggests that the neck injury is minor. Obviously, the injury could linger. However, for Wes Welker, overcoming adversity is just another day at the office.

He's done it all his life, there is no reason to think he stops now.

With a healthy Welker, a rejuvenated Deion Branch, an excited Chad Ochocinco and, of course, the energetic young tight ends—Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez—Tom Brady and the New England Patriots will have one of the NFL's most explosive offenses.

Don't worry about this neck injury. As long as Welker is wearing red, white and blue, he is going to dazzle.

No. 83 and No. 12 form one of football's best one-two punches, and in 2011, you can expect another huge year from the dynamic duo.