Welker left Tech
with school records in catches (259) and receiving yards (3,069). After making
the San Diego Chargers' roster at the end of training camp in 2004, he soon
alternated between elation and impatience. "Every practice was just the
same, trying to get reps whenever I could," he says. "There were days I
wouldn't get one. Maybe they'd throw me in on a blocking play, so I'm out there
busting my butt on blocking, making sure that somehow I show up in the
camera." The Chargers cut him three days after the season opener, and Miami
signed him six days later.
Playing with a
revolving door of quarterbacks in Miami, Welker couldn't help but wonder how
things might be better in, say, New England, where the Patriots developed
cohesion and welcomed versatility. (Not to mention they had won three Super
Bowls.) Since arriving, the 26-year-old Welker has elevated the Pats as a
receiver and return man. When Brady senses the Giants' pass rush this Sunday,
he will no doubt look for Welker, who in the teams' Dec. 29 meeting had 122
yards on 11 receptions, seven of those for first downs. "I guess it's easy
[for defenders] to miss him," Brady says. "He can hide in the
Welker has easily
embraced the Patriots' all-for-one ethos. As the wins and the catches piled up
during the season, his older brother, Lee, knowing the pressure of trying to
remain unbeaten, started sending text messages from Oklahoma City. "Big
game this Sunday," Lee wrote one time.
game," Wes texted back.
Lee looked up from
the cellphone and told the family, "He's starting to sound just like
"On the outside looking in, it was the type of team I always wanted to play
for. When I came here, they didn't care what I ran in the 40 or what my size
was. They looked at the film, and they saw what they saw. It's finally the day
where I wasn't passed over."