Saturday, June 28, 2014

Welker thinks Talib is 'a helluva player,' can help team


Five months ago, Aqib Talib and Wes Welker were looking at each other from the turf at the AFC Championship Game.

Victim of a pick play allegedly orchestrated by the Denver Broncos, Talib was bowled over by the former Patriots star while trying to keep up with Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas on a slant route. That play knocked Talib out of the game, and with it, the Patriots run toward football's ultimate goal. 

But much has changed since that unusually balmy and definitively ruthless game in January. Talib has since said seyonara to New England for a ridiculous six-year, $57 million contract with, no other, than the Broncos.

Now reunited with former teammate Talib, Welker excited about things to come.

"We’ve always been good friends, even when I was here in New England; always talked and different things like that," Welker told Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston. "He knew I wasn’t trying to hurt him or anything else. I was just trying to make a good football play for my team. I was trying to get him to go over the top, so Demaryius would have a little more room to catch the ball and go upfield.

"When the Broncos asked me about Aqib and everything else, I was like, 'Sign him. He’s a helluva player and can really help us.' He’s shown that even this spring, being out there [in practices]; he’s a playmaker."

The Patriots are surely aware of that fact given Talib's contribution to their secondary, which included four interceptions in 2013. Looking deeper into his stats, however, paints a much different picture of his overall value to the team last season.

The 28-year-old allowed a 53.5-percent completion rate last season with New England; that was 21st among all cornerbacks in the league, according to ProFootballFocus. Of those completions, he allowed 596 yards, a category he ranked 67th. 

Granted, Talib was not 100 percent last year. Far from it. Filling his role now, however, is five-time Pro Bowler Darrelle Revis, who landed 26th and 24th in those categories, respectively, in 2013 and another injury question mark in some eyes. 

Regardless, he's a step up (in our minds) at the position, as well as in the mind of former Patriots great Ty Law, who called Revis "an upgrade."

The question now is how Welker feels about potentially lining up once again against Revis, a defender he's used to seeing across the line of scrimmage. Welker's hoping Revis, like Talib, continues to choose Thomas over him when things get under way this year. 

"We used to have a lot of battles, when he was with the Jets and I was here," Welker said. "He would come in the slot and kind of follow me around there for a few years.

"Hopefully he follows Demaryius [Thomas] around whenever we play them."

Follow Dan @DanBegnoche
Follow AFC East Daily @AFCEastDaily