Welker Has Shoulder Injury

Wes Welker already had one challenge ahead of him in order to get back on the playing field - recovering from torn ligaments in his knee. Now he has another. Welker's latest obstacle is a shoulder injury that also required surgery.

From bad to worse?

A widely held belief that Wes Welker was nearly indestructible ended when the diminutive wideout crumpled to the Reliant Field turf in agony during the first quarter of the Patriots season finale against the Houston Texans. Welker tore both his ACL and MCL ligaments, requiring surgery to repair the damaged joint.

Already faced with one grueling recovery process, Welker now has another. Friday night news broke that Welker also had a torn rotator cuff, an injury that requires surgery.

On his site "Big Rips," blogger Seth Davis reported that Welker was dealing with a torn rotator cuff injury. "Wes has been to Mass General Hospital within the past few weeks and saw the same doctor that treated Laurence Maroney for his torn labrum," Davis wrote.

When reached for comment, Davis told PatriotsInsider.com that his source had knowledge of Welker's injury, and told him it was a torn rotator cuff. Davis reiterated what he wrote on the blog. "Most people don't know how serious Maroney's injury was."

ESPN has since confirmed the injury, noting the injury in the network's local blog.

Welker tore two ligaments in his knee against the Texans in January. Reports on his recovery indicate that his surgery "went well" and he is on the road to recovery. The shoulder issue was a separate injury, something Welker decided to deal with now.

According to some expert opinions, the rehab on the shoulder shouldn't delay Welker's return beyond what is required to recover from the knee issue.

New England Patriots Tom Brady & trainers Wes Welker vs Houston Texans Jan 3, 2010 (AP /Donna McWilliam)

Medical opinions vary on the time required to recover from the type of knee injury Welker experienced. Some reports indicate an athlete can recover the majority of the strength in the repaired joint within a 9-12 month period.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady suffered a similar injury to Welker's in the team's 2008 season opener. Brady missed the entire 2008 season after undergoing multiple surgeries to address the injury and an infection that occurred from complications. Brady wore a brace throughout the 2009 off-season, during training camp and the preseason. He was ready to play for the Patriots 2009 season opener, though it appeared the knee was still a concern.

Welker's injury, which occurred in January of 2010, could conceivably keep the wideout sidelined much of the 2010 season.

As noted in a report by the Boston Globe, quarterbacks have an easier time returning to the field than other players.

"Quarterbacks, in my experience, return more quickly then running backs and wide receivers, the guys who have to do the quick cutting and planting maneuvers," Dr.Paul Weitzel, told the Globe's Kay Lazar.

Weitzel is an orthopedic surgeon at the Boston Sports & Shoulder Center. He has extensive experience in the field and was referring to Brady's injury at the time.

Seventh round 2009 Draft pick Julian Edelman filled in for Welker last season. The rookie had career-best types of performances, while subbing for Welker. Edelman was targeted 15 times in the Texans game, and made 10 catches for 103 yards.

"I think Edelman was a pleasant surprise for us last year," Patriots Director of Player Personnel Nick Caserio told reporters in Indianapolis at the NFL Combine last month. "We feel good about Julian and hopefully he'll improve."

As pleasant a surprise Edelman was for New England, last year he was only supposed to be a backup to Welker. Now he's Welker's replacement. If the Patriots didn't have a reason to look for a plan B before, they do now.

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A member of the Pro Football Writers of America, Jon has covered the NFL for various media outlets the past decade. His work has appeared on the pages of The OBR Magazine, Warpaint Illustrated, TFY Draft Preview and FoxSports.com's Fantasy Guide. You can find his analysis on Prime Sports Network Radio, i95FM, the NFL Network, and at PatriotsInsider.com. Follow jon via twitter: @jscottNFL

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