Conventional wisdom would seem to suggest that the Ravens top cornerback, Lardarius Webb, would be matched up against the New England Patriots’ top wide receiver, Wes Welker, when the teams meet in Sunday’s AFC championship game.
If that’s the plan though, Webb isn’t tipping his hand.
“I’m not locked on him or anything. He’s just one of the wide receivers,” Webb said after Thursday’s practice. “They have a lot of good wide receivers, a lot of good talent around them. [Quarterback Tom] Bradyis surrounded with talent, and once you have a great quarterback with that much talent, the sky’s the limit to what they can do.”
Tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez get a lot of attention, but shadowing Welker would also be a wise move. Welker led the NFL this past season in receptions (122) and finished second in receiving yards (1,569). His nine touchdown catches were a personal best.
Defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano described Welker as “quick as a cat” and with “feet like a shorebird.”
“Just underneath, down the middle, in-and-out, they move him around out of the backfield, he’s all over the place,” Pagano said during his weekly media briefing Thursday. “We have to No.1, identify where he’s at, what the situation is, what the down and distance is. Like I said, Brady’s got a certain comfort zone with him. He’s his go-to guy amongst others. He makes that thing go.”
Welker’s speed, especially as a slot receiver, would appear to be a match for Webb, who is also quick and often slides inside when cornerbacks Cary Williams and Jimmy Smith are on the field at the same time.
Webb said Welker’s brain is just as potent as his hands or feet.
“He’s just a smart wideout,” Webb said. “He’s got crisp routes and everything. I actually worked out a little bit with him in the offseason. He’s just always working. Once you’ve got a guy like that, a high-energy guy like that who is a baller, he’s just a straight-up baller. You can’t take anything from Wes. He’s always going 110 [percent], and when you’ve got a baller going at 110 all the time, it’s going to be hard to stop him.”Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times