Wes Welker might be the most interesting man in the NFL

Posted Saturday, Sep. 14, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Wes Welker considers himself the luckiest man in NFL history. He spent six seasons with Tom Brady, left and joined Peyton Manning in Denver.

“I feel very fortunate,” Welker said in a phone interview. “It was kind of by design. There weren’t too many places that I was going to go, or too many other quarterbacks I would have played with. I’m honored and privileged to have the opportunity to play with them. I’m looking forward to this year with Peyton and the Broncos, and the opportunity to do some great things.”

Manning won and Brady lost when Welker signed a two-year, $12 million contract with the Broncos. The former Texas Tech star averaged 112 catches in six seasons in New England, but the Patriots offered him only $10 million to return.

The Patriots, though they are 2-0, are struggling offensively without him. The Broncos are flourishing.

Welker caught nine passes for 67 yards and two touchdowns as Manning threw a record-tying seven touchdowns in the season opener against the Baltimore Ravens.

“There’s definitely excitement,” said Welker, who didn’t have his best game with a lost fumble on a punt return. “I think there was excitement going into [the season opener]. We have high expectations for ourselves and our fans, and everyone else has high expectations for us.”

It wasn’t until his fourth season and his third team that Welker received an opportunity to start and star. Despite his 777 receptions for 8,647 yards and 40 touchdowns, Welker still plays with the chip he had as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2004 when the San Diego Chargers signed him and then cut him after the first game in what coach Marty Schottenheimer has called his biggest mistake.

“I don’t think you ever arrive,” Welker said. “I think that’s one thing you’ve got to keep with you: You don’t ever arrive. As much as people want to tell you that you have, or anything else, in your mind you’ve got to understand you never do and keep working as if you never do, and good things will happen.”

Welker, 32, seeks his first Super Bowl title, which he cites as the No. 1 reason for signing with the Broncos. He hopes for more than one, believing he still has several more good years in him.

“I feel good,” Welker said. “As long as I feel good and I enjoy it, and I’m still able to produce, I’m going to keep on playing. I don’t know too many other jobs I’d want to take right now.”

Charles returns strong

Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles thought his comeback from reconstructive knee surgery was pretty impressive until he watched Adrian Peterson nearly set the NFL single-season rushing record.

Charles, who tore the ACL in his left knee in Week 2 of the 2011 season, returned to rush for a career-best 1,509 yards in 2012, ranking him fourth. Peterson led the league with 2,097.

“I wanted to see what I could do,” the former University of Texas star said in a conference call. “I didn’t know I could do that. Then, I just started believing I could. Maybe I didn’t lose a step, because most people say, ‘He will never be the same; he will never be a tough running back’ and I went out there and proved people wrong.

“That gives me even more confidence this year, going on two years since I had my knee surgery. I’m feeling great. I feel real comfortable out there on the field now, not worrying about my knee.”

In Andy Reid’s West Coast offense, Charles might not get 285 carries as he did last season. Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy had a career-high 273 carries in 2011 in Reid’s offense. But McCoy averaged 60 catches over the past two seasons.

Charles has never had more than 45 receptions.

“I didn’t really know about him, but I saw what he did with McCoy since I’ve been playing in the league and [Brian] Westbrook [before that],” Charles said. “I am excited to have him as a coach, because I know it’s opened up opportunities for me in the passing game and the running game.”

Still, Charles, 26, hopes to join Peterson in the 2,000-yard club one day.

“It would be a great opportunity for any running back to rush for 2,000 yards, and hopefully I have a chance this year,” said Charles, who had 77 rushing yards last week before leaving with a quad contusion. “I got off to a rough start, but hopefully I get an opportunity once I finish my career to be able to say I had 2,000 yards in one of my seasons.”

Charean Williams, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @NFLCharean

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