When an airplane loses one of its jet engines it doesn’t always render it inoperable. It does make it a little harder to take off, as well as making the pilot adjust the way they fly.
Two of the Patriots most important players, pro-bowlers Wes Welker and Jerod Mayo, each lost an engine during the 2009 NFL season. Welker blew out two knee ligaments, ACL and MCL, while Jerod Mayo had a grade 3 sprain on his MCL.
While Welker had to be shelved for the rest of the season, Mayo came back a few short weeks later. However, one could tell that he was lacking a bit of his explosiveness that made him the defensive rookie of the year in 2008, clearly having to account for his bum “engine”. Mayo seems ready to go in 2010, without worrying about his knee. He has been a fixture at the Patriots facility this off-season, participating even when he wasn’t required to show up. Mayo stated, “I don’t want anybody to get an edge on me, so I’m always trying to get better as far as the mental aspect and the physical aspect.” That is the leadership that this young defense needs.
Welker’s recovery, however, is nothing but miraculous. Initially, it was questionable whether Welker would see the field at all in 2010. After some suprise appearances at OTA’s this summer, Welker announced that “[The knee] is doing well, kind of plugging along getting in more of a training mode than a rehab mode. It has been going good so far, taking it a day at a time.” While the Patriots are notoriously tight-lipped about their injuries, it would seem that a Week 7 return after being placed on the PUP list is the worst-case scenario for the “Slot Machine.”
After a few months in the hangar, it will be nice to see the newly-repaired Patriots flying up and down the field come training camp. Thirteen days and counting!