Chargers hopeful crazy or a fool?

Some call him crazy. Others a fool. It is a moniker Wes Welker wears with pride. The Texas Tech wide receiver is now in camp as an undrafted free agent with the San Diego Chargers. He is planning on standing by the principles that made him a star at Tech but can ill-afford to make a mistake when catching a punt. You see, Welker has not called for a fair catch in over two years.

"I haven't had a fair catch since my sophomore year," Welker says with his chest puffed out.

And he has a right to stay as bloated as he wants.

Welker dominated the NCAA punt return records during his career at Texas Tech. He set the career punt return yardage record with 1,761 over the last four seasons and established a new mark in most career punt returns for touchdowns (8).

Damieon Dante Hall may finally have some competition it seems. Hall, you may recall, made waves for returning four kicks for touchdowns in a four game span.

Welker has a long way to go before that happens as the competition level has been raised. He has been termed crazy by some for his fearless work as a punt returner. No fair catches since he was a sophomore are just ridiculous when mulled.

"I guess a little bit," Welker admits of his level of crazy. "Every opportunity I get a chance to make a play, I want to take full advantage of that opportunity and, I don't know, it is just kind of an ego thing I got going. I kind of just started and I decided with myself that I am not going to do that."

Welker also owns the single-season record for punt returns 57 and punt return yards 752, both coming in 2002.

Now that he has his sights on an NFL roster spot he may be tempered a bit. The hits come harder, the action is faster and mistakes can land you on the street.

"Two turnovers in my four years, 150-something returns," Welker says in his defense.

The fact is his return numbers may have even been brought down from not calling for a fair catch. There were plenty of times when a defender was on his heels as he caught the ball.

"As far as my average," Welker admits. "I was still at about 12 per punt return, but I think I could have been over 15 if I hadn't."

Besides Hall who owned a 16.3 yard per return average, the top men were Antwaan Randle El and David Allen who owned 12.0 averages per return.

If Welker could provide that sort of boost to the return game and keep Eric Parker from further harm it may be enough to give him serious consideration.

That and the fact that he can be an emergency kicker. The only problem is he missed his only chance on an extra point attempt.

"Yeah, I did," Welker says laughing. "If they need a backup. I am usually pretty dead on with my kicking skills. We were up by quite a bit and it was something I messed with during practice and the coaches were pretty impressed with it and gave me a shot at it."

Welker is willing to help out wherever the Chargers ask. Crazy he may be, but humble as well. He fashions himself as an old fashioned player who is not afraid to do the tough things that an NFL rookie must do.

"I am just looking to help out the team in whatever way – any way I can."

Denis Savage can be reached at denis@sandiegosports.net

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