Pats Points: The Return of Wes Welker, Fred Taylor and the Running Game

Sara HannonCorrespondent IAugust 23, 2010

ATLANTA - AUGUST 19:  Wide receiver Wes Welker #83 of the New England Patriots reacts during the preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome on August 19, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)
Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

Patriots fans around the country held their breath for a few seconds on Thursday when the New England Patriots took on the Atlanta Falcons in their second of four oh-so-important preseason games.

Wes Welker got clocked by Falcons corner back Christopher Owens. But Wes did exactly what he used to do: pop back up like one of those punching bag clowns. 

And then we all could breathe.

You have to admire his toughness, no one expected him to be anywhere near ready for the preseason, much less the regular season, but it looks like he will be ready for the start of the season. And if they want to ease him back in, Julian Edelman is looking like he's never heard the term "Sophomore Slump". 

The big cloud hanging over the offense is Logan Mankins, and while ESPN can't get enough of the very dramatic Darrelle Revis holdout, there's been almost nothing from the Pats camp.

Surprised? No. Broadcasters can barely get the starting lineup for preseason games out of the Patriots camp, what makes you think they would ever talk about contract negotiations? 

Despite the lack of Logan and the questionable offensive line depth, the Patriots showed us they could do something else: run the ball. 

Now with Tom Brady, Wes Welker, and Randy Moss on your team, the offense will throw the ball. Last year the Patriots had a committee of running backs and still did not run the ball well.

Fred Taylor reminded the NFL that he still has something left in the tank. Remember, Taylor missed 10 games last year with an ankle injury, and Sammy Morris missed some time as well. That left inexperienced BenJarvus Green-Ellis and inconsistent Laurence Maroney to get the bulk of the carries.

This year the committee is back. If everyone stays healthy, the Patriots new dedication to a balanced offense can mean breakout years for the younger guys and getting back to form for Fred Taylor. Kevin Faulk will, as always, be consistent, and be the third down and receiving back. 

There are questions looming for the Patriots: the offensive line, Tom Brady's contract, Logan Mankin's holdout, and a few injuries, we do know a few things. The offense will be more balanced, barring injury to all seven running backs.

Tom Brady looks much better in the second year after his knee injury. Wes Welker is apparently a freak of nature who heals faster than your average human, Fred Taylor is not as old as we think he is, and none of these questions will be answered before the hobo-like Hood Man Bill Belichick says so. Because the Patriots are like the mob, they don't talk to anyone about the family.