At 5-foot-9 and 190 pounds, Wes Welker looks like an average person. If you didn't know who he was you probably wouldn't peg him as a guy with 440 catches and 24 touchdowns in the NFL over the last four-plus seasons.
Lions receiver Nate Burleson knows who Welker is, and he wants to be just like him.
"This year I'm going to try to be the black Wes Welker," Burleson said Monday on the NFL Network. "I'm going to get as many catches in that slot or on the outside opposite Calvin [Johnson] because he’s going to attract a lot of attention all year."
Skin tone aside, Burleson should have an opportunity to put up Welker-like numbers in Detroit this season. The 2-0 Lions have a superstar receiver in Johnson much like the Patriots had in Randy Moss from 2007 to 2010. With defenses focused on limiting Moss, Welker quietly led the league in receptions in both 2007 and 2009.
Burleson thinks his role will be similar to Welker's.
"One of the biggest factors with me signing with Detroit was Calvin Johnson, hands down," said Burleson, who joined the Lions prior to the 2010 season. "Playing with Randy Moss, I know first hand the benefits of playing with a guy who is going to attract a lot of attention. Calvin, by far, in my opinion is the best wide receiver in the league. If you haven't been paying attention, four touchdowns in two games: The guy is pretty much showing everybody that he is."
Although it's early in the season, Burleson already has some catching up to do to match Welker's output. The Patriots' slot receiver is third in the league in receiving yards with 241 and has grabbed 15 passes, two for touchdowns. Burleson has a respectable 12 catches for 153 yards, but has yet to reach the end zone this season.