FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Last season, in the days leading up to the New England Patriots' Week 17 matchup with the Texans on Jan. 3, much of the talk surrounding the team dealt with whether the Patriots would rest their key players for the game.
In the end, Wes Welker played, and the wide receiver suffered a season-ending knee injury in the first quarter. By Aug. 1, he had returned to the practice field, and on Wednesday, his teammates named Welker the Patriots' Ed Block Courage Award winner.
"Being able to come back from the offseason I had, and last season, the way it ended, it's definitely an honor and I'm definitely happy to have my name on the Ed Block Courage Award," Welker said Thursday. "I think it was kind of by default because of the circumstances [though], and because I was the only one hurt this offseason."
Last season, the Patriots still had something to play for in the final week, having a chance to improve their seed in the playoffs. This year, the team already has locked up the top seed in the AFC playoffs.
Given what happened last season, Welker was asked if coach Bill Belichick would decide to sit Welker for Sunday's regular-season finale against the Dolphins.
"I say I'm here to play football. That's what I get paid to do. I love playing it. No matter what's at stake, I want to play it," Welker said. "I know people probably think differently about that. But I don't worry about all that stuff, and whatever Coach Belichick decides for me, that's what I'm going to do, but I'm always ready to play."
Welker also was asked if he has received any indication from Belichick on whether he will play.
"I have not. For me, I'm going out there and preparing for Miami and getting ready for them," Welker said. "We're definitely coming out and making sure we're prepared to play."
Mike Rodak is a regular contributor to ESPNBoston.com.