Welker reflects on ACL injury

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Patriots offensive lineman Logan Mankins returned to the practice field Sunday for the first time since surgery to repair a torn ACL suffered prior to the end of the 2011 season.

His expedient return to the field is a testament to his toughness, coach Bill Belichick said Wednesday afternoon.

It was also reminiscent of Wes Welker's post-ACL tear recovery. Welker spent the 2010 offseason rehabbing after going down in the Patriots' 2009 regular-season finale at Houston.

Welker bounced back quickly, playing in 15 of 16 games the following year and racking up 86 catches -- a high total for most receivers, but pedestrian by the standards he has set for himself in New England.

It was in his second year back on the field after ACL surgery that Welker believes he saw a bigger change, which was evidenced by his league-leading 122 catches.

"I mean, yeah, I went from 86 catches to 122, so I'd say it was quite a difference in being able to have that year under your belt and really try and come back from it and those things," he said.

Though the 31-year old receiver looks like his old self despite the tear, it's not a fate he would want others to experience.

"I definitely don't wish that injury on my worst enemy. That was definitely a tough one."