Sunday, January 29, 2012
Don't forget about Welker
By Matt Ehalt
As Deon Grant talks about Wes Welker, he mentions the stats. While New England's dynamic tight end duo of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez were lighting up opposing defenses and setting records, it was Welker who finished with 1,569 receiving yards, which was the second-highest total in the league.
"Any time you have a receiver like that still can get open is very quick like that, it's going to be one of Tom Brady's No. 1 looks first," Grant said. "He's still very effective even with them tight ends they've had the whole year, Welker still got the amount of yards he got."
While all of the talk has been about New England's tight ends and the problems they present for the Giants, the team knows it has to keep its attention on Welker. The slot receiver has had success against the Giants in the last two times he's faced them.
"He's quick. He runs great routes. Him and Brady are on the same page at all times," linebacker Chase Blackburn said. "They know what each other is thinking all the time and they can mix him up, they put him in the one, they put him in the slot, they put him at the three, they put him everywhere. To get a mismatch they'll put him inside and get him on a linebacker and a nickel back instead of having him face a corner and that's really what they have him do well."
Welker, like he does against most teams, has given the Giants fits as a member of the Patriots. In the last Super Bowl, he had 11 catches for 103 yards. Against the Giants in November, Welker had nine catches for 136 yards.
Cornerback Corey Webster, who will likely not see that much of Welker as he plays the outside, said that the Giants are going to have to disrupt the timing between Welker and Brady. The receiver has 12 catches for 108 yards and a touchdown in the playoffs.
"I don't know if Welker is the biggest challenge, he has a great person throwing him the ball so just kind of throwing off some of the timing between the quarterback and the receiver I think will help us a lot," Webster said. "They got a lot of good weapons over there on the team so we have to be cognizant of where everybody is on the field at all times and hopefully that can eliminate some of their big playmaking ability and try to get Brady and the receivers off their normal smooth transition that they're normally on."
Having faced the Patriots and Welker before, Grant believes that the Giants will be able to use some of that knowledge to their advantage but they also have to watch out for new tricks that the Patriots might have up their sleeves.
"The good thing about that is we have faced them before," Grant said. "We know exactly what them guys can do as an individual standpoint but as far as they scheme, they might change everything up. With the brains of Brady and (Bill) Belichick, ain't no telling what they might come up with."