“A little bit,” Welker said with a grin. “I’m going to let him know how good of a time we’re having and we wished he was here.”
Brady was selected as the AFC’s starting quarterback but pulled out of the game when it was revealed he would have surgery to repair a stress fracture in his right foot.
Despite the injury, Brady remained his usual stellar self as the league’s top rated passer this season, throwing for 3,900 yards and 36 touchdowns against four interceptions in the regular season.
“I always knew he was having problems but I didn’t know to what extent,” Welker said. “He never really tells anybody that he’s hurting or anything like that. He just always plays through it and does a great job.”
Welker caught 86 passes, tying for sixth in the NFL, for 848 yards to earn his third Pro Bowl berth. He closed the season with seven receptions for 57 yards in a playoff loss to the New York Jets in which he was benched for the first series. Welker said he understood the stand Patriots coach Bill Belichick took on the matter and “we’ve moved past it.”
Welker is entering the final year of his contract with the Patriots and would like to stick around beyond the 2011 season.
“I’m content with where I’m at and just happy to be a Patriot and looking forward to the next year,” he said.
Along with hanging out with Patriots teammates and getting to know players from around the league, Welker has connected with one of the coaches from his past while in Hawaii. University of Hawaii head coach Greg McMackin was the defensive coordinator at Texas Tech when Welker was a star receiver for the Red Raiders. McMackin stopped by practice on Wednesday.
“It was good to see him and the success he’s had here,” Welker said. “He’s such a great guy and it was good catching up with him.”
McMackin, who just completed his third season at Hawaii, recalled that Welker had been lightly recruited coming out of high school and was again overlooked after finishing a record-breaking college career largely because of his relative lack of size. McMackin was working for the San Francisco 49ers at that time and said he tried to convince team officials to pick up Welker.
“I told them about his heart and how smart a player he is,” McMackin said.
But Welker ended up signing with the San Diego Chargers and broke loose for a big return in a preseason game against the 49ers.
“Then they asked me, 'Did we know about this guy?'" McMackin said.
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Jason Kaneshiro is covering the Pro Bowl for ESPNBoston.com all week.