Ex-Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker ready to face his old team again
|01.16.14 at 6:00 am ET|
When asked Wednesday about Wes Welker and the impact he’s had on the Denver offense in his first season with the Broncos, coach John Fox and quarterback Peyton Manning didn’t mince words.
‘He’s been exactly what we thought we were getting,” Fox said when asked about Welker. “Even people in the New England organization said that we would enjoy coaching him, and we have. He came in, made a pretty big impact. The fact that he was voted captain and just got here is a pretty good indicator of what his peers and teammates think of him. He’s fit in in exactly what we thought he would be, and that’s important.’
‘Like Coach Fox said, a lot of things that I think a lot of people thought about Wes as an opponent all proved to be true once he joined us as a teammate,” Manning said. “I always assumed that he was an extremely competitive guy that loved football and a guy that loved to work, he loved to practice. The way he played ‘ I saw him many a time play Colts versus the Patriots ‘ so to have him become a Bronco, all those things checked out.
“He’s a gym rat. He loves the game, loves to work after practice [and] loves to talk in meetings about routes that he thinks might have a chance to get open,” Manning added. “He’s very knowledgeable of defenses and how teams have played him in the past, whether they’ve double-covered him or whatever it may be. So he’s been a fun guy to play with, I’ll say that.’
After six seasons in New England, Welker finished his first year with the Broncos with with 73 catches for 778 yards and 10 touchdowns in 13 games. After going down with a concussion that caused him to miss the final three weeks of the regular season, he returned to the lineup in last weekend’s divisional playoff win against the Chargers, and had six catches for 38 yards and a touchdown.
Welker said that after his first game against the Patriots — which ended in a loss in his return to Gillette on Nov. 24, a game where he had four catches for 31 yards — he was able to get some of that nostalgia of facing his old team out of the way. Now, heading into this weekend’s AFC title game, the focus is on football.
‘It’s still another game,” he said Wednesday when asked about facing the Patriots. “You understand it is the AFC Championship, and everything like that. You want to go out there and prepare as much as possible. At the same time, it is still an opponent and it’s a team and you’re going out there and playing to the best of your ability and go out there and try to win the game.’
He said he’s impressed by the play of the New England secondary.
‘Their secondary I feel like is the real strength of their defense and of their football team,” he said. “They have a lot of good players back there and lot of good cover guys. Their safeties are very knowledgeable, and they do a great job. I don’t see too many differences from what they did in the first game going forward, but we’ll just see how it plays out.’
Welker acknowledged he maintains relationships with some of his old teammates, but said it’s not strange that he’s going up against his old team for a chance to get to the Super Bowl.
‘It’s tough to get here and tough to get to this position and tough to get this opportunity. You just try to take advantage of it and try not to worry about how you got here or what was expected or anything else,” he said. “I’m just happy I have the opportunity and try to make the most of it.
‘You’ve got to appreciate it and seize that moment, and you have to take advantage of it,” he added. “Injuries happen, free agency happens, all different things happen. The opportunities of getting to this situation are so rare that you’ve got to seize that moment and take advantage of it.’
He also added that when it comes to facing his old mates, there’s no extra incentive because Denver suffered an overtime loss the first time these two teams met.
‘I think you look back at the game,” he said. “But at the same game it’s a new game, the style is different, the way we go about things, the weather will be different — a lot of those different things. You take a lot from it, but at the same time you don’t dive in to it too much or over-analyze it or anything else. You just try to get ready the best you can and understand the game is not going to be totally the same, but still do your homework from the last one.’
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