By Mary Paoletti
CSNNE.com Staff Reporter Follow @mary_paoletti
It's hard to argue with numbers.
Or so they say. But it's not an expression Wes Welker is content to seek shade under.
I still feel like theres a lot of doubters that I cant do a lot of things on the field and that my value isnt as great as a lot of the other guys out there," he told CBSSports.com's Mark Morgan.
"Theres always something to prove and work on and get better at.
It's an interesting attitude for a wide receiver who's caught more than 100 passes in three of the last four seasons. Despite 86 catches and 848 yards last year, his averages in a Patriots uniform are impressive: 108 receptions, 1,134 yards and 5.5 touchdowns in 15.25 games.
Where Welker is confident, he's not content.
Im sure there are -- theres no doubt. ... Theyll always try to (argue the numbers).
So he trained. This offseason was the first since rehabbing his torn ACLMCL and Welker took advantage of his good health. Going into his fifth season with the Patriots he now says he's in the best shape of his life.
"I think just the amount of training I've been able to do. Not having to rehab and really just focusing in on this year and realizing that I need to be in the best shape possible. I think as you get older you get a little wiser in how to do that and what you need to do to accomplish that."
Welker's timing is good; this is his contract year. He'll make 2.5 million with the Patriots in 2011-12 before hitting free agency. When asked about his future, the wideout said he's focused on the year ahead, but confirmed a desire to stay put.
Of course I want to stay here. I love playing here," he said.
"I love the team type atmosphere that we have here in New England and I enjoy being around the guys and the type of work that everybody puts in collectively. It's what makes us go."
It's not surprising Tom Brady is high on Welker's list of Patriots 'Pros.' He credits some success to his quarterback, saying their relationship and on-field chemistry makes his job -- and racking up those numbers -- that much easier.
"He's the guy you want," Welker said of Brady. "He's definitely the dream quarterback in every way, shape and form for a receiver. We don't always see eye to eye... for the most part we do. We have a great relationship where we can talk about things. We'll get in something heated then we'll come to the side and say, 'Alright, what do we really think about this.'"
The duo will be on display Saturday in Detroit during New England's third preseason game, but Welker's eager to get back to regular season action. He gets the chance September 12 when the Patriots open against Miami -- the team that let him get away in 2007. That game -- every game -- presents an opportunity to prove he belongs in the elite class of NFL receivers.
And Welker is ready.