FOXBORO -- Wes Welker hasn't had much of a problem getting open in the last three weeks, but he knows that the Seattle secondary he'll face on Sunday presents a unique challenge with its size.
Seattle's larger-than-average defensive backs will be tasked with slowing down the Patriots offense and their diminutive, but ridiculously productive, slot receiver. Welker grabbed his first touchdown of the season last week against Denver, and he had over 100 yards receiving for the third week in a row.
"It's always a challenge in the NFL so especially with these guys it's going to be really tough," Welker said. "You gotta make sure you're not sloppy, you're physical and quick and fast and all those different things in order to get open."
Seattle's secondary has helped make the Seahawks defense one of the toughest in the league, allowing just 258.6 yards per game (best in the NFL) and 14.0 points per game (second best). Their size and their length allows them to be physical with receivers and sometimes get their hands on balls that other defensive backs can't.
Cornerbacks Brandon Browner (6-foot-4, 221 pounds) and Richard Sherman (6-3, 195) man the edges, while at the back end of the secondary is safety Kam Chancellor (6-3, 232).
"These guys are long, theyre extremely big, theyre 6-4, 6-3 corners," Bill Belichick said Wednesday. "You just dont see them very often, and to see them on one team, theyre hard to get away from. Theyre big and theyre physical and they take up a lot of space. A lot of guys arent used to going up against that size a player 220-pound corners.
"For the quarterback, its hard because its no different than playing against a taller middle linebacker, a guy like Brian Urlacher or somebody like that whos 6-4, 6-5 in the middle of the field. Their range and their height just make those throws in the middle a little tougher."
Welker (5-9, 185 pounds) is accustomed to seeing defensive backs slightly taller than him, but Seattle's secondary is a whole different animal. He said the unusual length of their defensive backs is something that's hard to prepare for and laughed when it was suggested that the Patriots might need to deploy their tight ends for the scout team secondary in order to give a similar look.
"You'd almost have to," Welker said. "It's kind of hard to replicate Seattle's size but you just watch a lot of film and go out there and practice how you're gonna play on Sunday and make sure you're doing the things you need to do to get open and get that separation and different things like that. It's definitely hard to replicate, and you just gotta make sure you're watching enough film and staying on top of everything so that you're ready to go on Sunday."