Patriots can be Awesome with W-E-S (Welker) now Returning

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Each year, the NFL becomes a more pass-happy league. And the team that dominated the last decade, the New England Patriots, are currently among the most pass-oriented, if not the most pass-oriented team in the league. In order to make their high powered air attack work, the Patriots need wide receiver Wes Welker to be back to his usual self. The fact that he actually played and caught a couple passes in tonight’s exhibition game with Atlanta is a great sign.

In a Week 17 game against the Houston Texans last season, Welker injured his left knee, forcing him to undergo ACL and MCL surgery this offseason. The original timeline for his return was Thanksgiving, but due to rapid advances in medicine, and Welker’s strong work ethic, he’s back now! Apparently, ACL injuries are not as career-threatening as they once were.

To further assess the state of the Patriots‘ passing game, I enlisted the help of New England‘s all-time leader in receptions, 15 year NFL veteran (all with New England) Troy Brown.

I recently had an exclusive with Brown on the day of his induction into the College Football Hall of Fame.

By Paul M. Banks

“The last few years they really haven’t had a third option at the receiver spot,” Brown told me.

“There’s Kevin Faulk, always Mr. Reliable, my favorite player, but outside of Randy (Moss) and Wes they really struggled to get some production, and it cost Randy some production, and they could really just use a third option right now,” he continued.

Welker finished second in the NFL in receiving yards last season, Moss was fifth. The next Patriot on that list was Julian Edelman, checking in at 111th. Welker led the league in receptions last season with 123, a Patriots franchise record, and the second highest total in NFL history. Moss was 13th in the league, and the next Pats player was once again Edelman, once again 111th. So Brown’s words certainly ring true.

Welker is the most dominant slot receiver in the game, he’s the key cog in the Pats’ passing offense as his critical third-down catches keep the chains moving, help control the ball, and ultimately redeem their mediocre rushing attack. New England was third in the NFL in passing last season, 12th in rushing.

Moss is the deep threat to complement Welker underneath, but who’s that third option going to be? Brown gave me his opinion on who the Patriots think that it could be.

“Julian Edelman is another guy I watch, he’s a good player, but I think he really has the potential to be a really great NFL player someday.”

Or it could be the Pats’ new free agent signing at the receiver position.

“We’ll see what Torry Holt has left in the tank, and hopefully that’s enough to give opposing teams some problems,” Brown said.

Welker’s early return is a very pleasant surprise. Unfortunately, it’s rather negated by the loss of Defensive End Ty Warren for the season; who was placed on injured reserve a few days ago.

Written by Paul M. Banks, President and CEO of The Sports Bank.net , a Midwest focused webzine. He is also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, the Chicago Tribune’s blog network, Walter Football.com, the Washington Times Communities, Yardbarker Network, and Fox Sports.com

You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank and @bigtenguru

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