The Washington Redskins this season have faced their fair share of talented wide receivers. They’ve seen Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Smith, Dez Bryant, DeSean Jackson and Santonio Holmes. But when the New England Patriots come to town Sunday, Washington’s defensive backs will face the most prolific wideout in the game today: Wes Welker.
Just 5-feet-9 and 185 pounds, Welker isn’t as physically imposing as some of the receivers the Redskins have faced this season. But he’s certainly as effective as they come.
Through 12 games, Welker leads the NFL with 93 catches (24 more than the 6-foot-5, 236-pound Calvin Johnson, who ranks second among wide receivers) and 1,253 yards (161 more than Johnson). Welker also has eight touchdown catches, which ranks third fourth among wide receivers.
“Dude’s got heart. He has a ton of heart,” Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall says. “He’s not physically the best-gifted athlete in the world, but he finds a way. Him and Tom [Brady] have an amazing connection. They’re able to find each other, figure each other out. They’ve been able to be successful the last couple of years, and it’s going to be a challenge for us.”
Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett joins Hall in praise of Welker. He credits strong technique and determination for Welker’s success.
“He’s a remarkable receiver. Obviously, that’s the go-to guy,” Haslett says. “He’s got a lot of catches. He’s got an unbelievable amount of yards. He finds ways to get open. He’s herky-jerky. I mean he’s all over the place. He’s hard to put your hands on. He’s fun to watch if you’re not coaching against him this week, but he is remarkable the way he gets open. He pushes off and he runs routes. He’s probably as good a route-runner as I’ve ever seen. He’s a really good player to watch.”
Welker enters Sunday’s game having posted one of his best outings of the season, recording 11 catches for 110 yards against Indianapolis.
Hall and his teammates acknowledge they face a tall task in slowing Welker and Brady, but they’ll try to do so by bringing as much pressure as possible so the future Hall of Fame quarterback doesn’t have as much time to locate his favorite target. And then, Hall and his fellow defensive backs will do their best to blanket Welker to keep him from running free.
“We’ve got to … send as many people around [Brady] as we can, and on the back end, we’ve got to lock up,” Hall says.
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