Caserio: Welker's got his quickness back

Caserio: Welker's got his quickness back
August 15, 2011, 6:56 pm
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By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
FOXBORO - There were times last year that Wes Welker acknowledged he wasn't quite back to where he was pre-ACL blowout. But inthe face of the "Wes Welker, Miracle Baby!" propaganda that followed his return from a blown ACL, the fact he wasn't 100 percent was glossed over. The numbers early in 2010 showed it, though. He didn't have more than 70 receiving yards in a game until mid-November. And his lack of acceleration and ability to power through tackles was evident as his YPC total dipped. Only once in his first eight games did he have more than 9 yards per catch. But then he averaged more than 11 YPC in six straight games. His YPC in four years with the Patriots is 10.5. Welker's built on that progress in this training camp and that's caught the eye of Patriots' Director of Player Personnel Nick Caserio. "Wes is having a really strong camp," Caserio said when evaluating the wide receivers as a whole. Asked for more on why Welker's seemed strong, Caserio added, "He always competes, always works hard. He looks like he's regained the quickness level relative to where it was (prior to blowing out his ACL in the 2009 regular-season finale). Wes works hard and he's been a productive player and looks confident. He catches the eye a little bit and done some things that look real good." Caserio spent a few minutes evaluating the Patriots' personnel at safety and Brandon Meriweather in particular, saying, "He's a player with versatility. He's played corner, safety, 'star' (that's the DB lined up on the offense's slot receiver).He's been productive. He's got experience. Is it perfect? No. Is he trying hard to get better? That's the most important thing. Each year is its own entity. You're looking for improvement over the course of time and I think Brandon's done that." Despite their work done at other employers, Caserio said the Patriots can't just presume high-level play from guys like Shaun Ellis and Albert Haynesworth. "Until player is in your program and in your system you actually don't know until they actually start practicing," Caserio explained. "It's no different than Randy (Moss) a few years ago ... until the player is in your program and in your system, with all due respect to how they've played and how they've performed withtheir other team, itreally doesn't matter. ... You have an idea, just sort of a gauge, 'Here's what their skill set may be.' But until you have them under your control a little bit it's sort of hard to evaluate that. .. a player can only do what he's able to do."Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran