Over on her blog, ESPN's injury expert Stephania Bell wonders if New England Patriots fans should be shocked about what they saw from receiver Wes Welker at organized team activities earlier this month and if a return for the regular season opener is possible.
According to Dr. Neal ElAttrache, Director of Sports Medicine at the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Los Angeles, "It's a great sign that he can do the things that he's doing. He's obviously recovering very well from his injury and surgery." ElAttrache, who performed Brady's knee reconstruction surgery in 2008, said at this point Welker has met the biggest benchmarks following this type of procedure: full motion of the knee, no swelling and the ability to tolerate exercise.
We should not be shocked by what Welker was able to do just four months after undergoing surgery (and five months after the noncontact injury to his left knee, which also resulted in a medial collateral ligament sprain). Advances in surgical technique and rehabilitation, combined with hard work and the absence of any setbacks, have shortened the timetable for return to activity.
Bell says it's understandable fans are comparing quarterback Tom Brady's knee injury in 2008 with Welker's, but points out Welker's injury was non-contact. She says Welker's injury is more common among running backs (for example, the Miami Dolphins' Ronnie Brown in 2007) and receivers (the Seattle Seahawks' Deion Branch in 2008).
So will Welker be back for Week 1?
"The fact that he's already running, doing light agility drills and other early football activities puts him in a better position to return sooner rather than later," Bell writes. "But there is still a long way to go."