OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Wes Welker's rehabilitation from a left knee injury is "coming along pretty well" but he still isn't ready to put a timetable on when he'll return to the New England Patriots.
Welker led the NFL last season with 123 catches, but tore the anterior cruciate ligament in the Patriots' final regular-season game and missed their playoff loss to Baltimore.
"We're just kind of trucking along and trying to get better every day," Welker said Friday night during a fundraiser for his charitable foundation at the Oklahoma History Center.
"That's kind of my motto of waking up and getting better every day," he added. "Hopefully, we get to the point where we want to be."
Welker said he injured "just the ACL," although reports after he was hurt in January suggested that he also tore the medial collateral ligament in his left knee. He said his rehab has been "strenuous" and "pushing the limits." But while he's excited about the progress, he isn't ready to say when he'll be back.
"We're not really putting a timetable on it. It's too early for that right now," Welker said. "My main thing is just working hard right now and getting back as soon as possible."
Welker said being unable to play "feeds a fire" for him to do everything he can from a preventative standpoint to keep from getting hurt again.
"I think you realize how much you love it and how much you care about your career and kind of your stake in what you do," Welker said. "You want to be great and you want to do this and you want to do that, and I think it kind of helps you realize it. You want to do some great things out there."
Welker was joined at the fundraiser by former Oklahoma defensive tackle Gerald McCoy — the No. 3 pick in this year's NFL draft — as well as Thabo Sefolosha of the Oklahoma City Thunder, former Texas Tech quarterback Kliff Kingsbury and new Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen.
Welker's foundation provides grants to schools and nonprofit organizations to build recreational centers and athletic fields intended to keep at-risk youth focused on sports and out of trouble. Before the fundraiser, Welker stopped by Douglass High School, which received a grant last year and then went on to play for the state championship.
"You never really expected it to grow to this," Welker said. "It's kind of crazy because you start with one thing and you're like, 'OK, let's reach it,' and you reach it. Then you're like, 'OK.' So, you need to dream bigger. Our whole thing has been dreaming bigger and bigger and reaching the point where we want to do a lot of great things."
The foundation has grown along with Welker's career. The undersized receiver from a small, private high school in Oklahoma City has made 346 catches during the past three seasons, the most in the NFL during that span. He tied for the league lead in 2007, when New England went undefeated in the regular season before losing to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl.
"Obviously to play in the NFL was a dream of mine. And then it's kind of like the foundation where you have to dream bigger," Welker said. "That's kind of what's become of dreaming even bigger and bigger, and each year trying to get better and better."
Welker agreed with quarterback Tom Brady's assertion that the Patriots needed to regain their mental toughness to get back to the type of playoff success that resulted in three Super Bowl titles in a four-year span.
"I think everybody just has to buy in. That's the main thing — everybody buying into a good attitude and wanting to go out there and win the games," Welker said.
"Everybody wants to do that. Everybody wants to go out there and play hard and do all those things, but there comes times in a game where it's like you've just got to step it up a little bit. ... We just need to take it to another level."