Welker, who has earned four straight Pro Bowl honors, leads the NFL with 554 receptions and 7.2 receptions per game since joining the Patriots prior to the 2007 season in a trade with Miami. He led the NFL with 122 receptions and finished second in the NFL in receiving yards with a franchise-record 1,569 yards in 2011. The 120-plus catch season was the second time in Welker’s career that he passed the 120-reception mark (123 in 2009 and 122 in 2011), joining Cris Carter (122 in 1995 and 122 in 1994) as the only players to have 120-plus receptions twice in a career.
Welker originally entered the NFL as a rookie free agent with San Diego in 2004 out of Texas Tech. The 5-foot-9-inch, 185-pound wide receiver survived the final cut to make the Chargers’ 53-man roster out of training camp, but was released after the first game. He then signed with the Miami Dolphins, where he played for three seasons. He was traded to New England on March 5, 2007 in exchange for a second- and seventh-round selection in the 2007 NFL Draft. Welker has started in 69 of 124 games and has registered 650 receptions for 7,226 yards and 32 touchdown receptions over his eight-year career.
Ebner, a 6-foot, 205-pound defensive back from Ohio State, was selected by the Patriots in the sixth round of the 2012 NFL Draft with the 197th pick overall. He was a key special teams player and reserve safety during his three seasons at Ohio State. He was a world-class Rugby player, who originally joined Ohio State as a walk-on in 2009. Last season, he played in all 12 games and was named the team’s outstanding special teams player.