Welker took part in just 70.5 percent of the offensive snaps in the first two games after participating in 88.9 percent of them during the 2011 regular season. Julian Edelman even started in his place in the second game.
“It’s a long season, so you just keep on battling, keep on working hard,” Welker said Friday. “That doesn’t change, even now.”
Coach Bill Belichick never explained his reasoning, and Welker said he felt “fine” physically.
In the season opener against Tennessee, Welker sat out 25 of the 67 offensive snaps. But in the past four games, he missed a total of just 23 plays.
And in last Sunday’s 23-16 win over Miami, he had 12 catches for 103 yards, and was thrown to 18 times.
Now, he has an NFL-high 92 snares — one more than Marshall — and is seventh with 1,064 yards receiving.
And because of injuries — Edelman is out for the season with a foot injury suffered last Sunday, and tight end Rob Gronkowski is likely to miss his third straight game with a broken forearm — Brady could be looking for Welker even more than usual.
“There’s pressure on everybody,” Welker said. “Everybody’s got to step up.”
He prefers not to look back at the knee injury he suffered at Houston in the last game of the 2009 season that forced him to miss the playoffs. It’s all about moving forward for Welker.
After all, that is the New England way.
“I’m really trying not to think about it too much. (I) appreciate you bringing that up,” Welker said with a grin. “I’ve just moved on from it and just worked hard and tried to get better.
“And, luckily, I’m where I’m at today.”
He also won’t look ahead to where he might be next season, once his $9.5 million, one-year deal that came with his franchise tag expires. There will be a time to think about contracts. This weekend is not that time.