The Denver Broncos did their part this off season to sign some key veteran players that could make an immediate impact.
The most notable signings were wide receiver Wes Welker and linebacker Shaun Phillips. There’s a certain amount of pressure on both players to perform. For Welker, he’s expected to have as productive as a season as he had last year when he had 118 receptions for 1,354 yards and six touchdowns. That’s because he’s got another first-ballot Hall of Fame quarterback throwing to him.
“It’s good,” Welker said of catching passes from Peyton Manning versus Tom Brady. “I don’t want to do any comparisons or anything like that, but obviously Peyton’s a great quarterback and has been for a long, long time. I’m just fortunate to be a part of it.”
For Phillips, he’s expected to fill in for Elvis Dumervil. Phillips had 50 tackles, 9.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles in 2012. Can he do the same after making the switch to the 4-3?
“It’s a little tough that they’ve got me covering tight ends a little bit more and not just rushing the passer, but it’s the first day,” Phillips said. “I’m learning. It’s a learning curve to it and I’m learning and picking it up. Football, at the end of the day, is always simple—see the ball, go tackle the guy with the ball.”
For both Welker and Phillips, this week is important for getting them used to their new surroundings.
“Getting comfortable with everybody—the strength staff, getting to know people’s names, learning my teammates’ names and everything like that,” Welker said. “It’s all coming together slowly but surely.”
The great thing about Welker and Phillips coming to the Broncos is that while the pressure is on them to perform, they don’t have to be the sole contributors at their respective positions.
Welker has the Demaryius Thomas/Eric Decker safety net.
“They’re great players,” Welker said. “Not only that, they’re good guys and they work hard. That’s all you can really ask for as far as being a receiver. Going into my 10th year, having some guys like them that appreciate it and are working hard and want to do a good job out there.”
Phillips has the Von Miller safety net.
“Another good thing is having a guy like Von on your team, because of the fact that the last few years in San Diego, I was that guy,” Phillips said. “The offense was always turning the line my way. Now it’s going to help me get back to getting some one-on-ones, and I look forward to those and I can make the most out of those.”
Both Welker and Phillips will be making the most of this opportunity as their careers wind down.