Jets' Ellis Lankster draws tough assignment on Pats' Wes Welker

New York Jets defensive back Ellis Lankster sits

New York Jets defensive back Ellis Lankster sits on the bench during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Sept. 16, 2012) (Credit: AP)

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Ellis Lankster hates guarding short receivers.

But for the second time in five days, the Jets nickel cornerback will be forced to keep up with a shifty slot receiver. After tailing Rams receiver Danny Amendola on Sunday, Lankster now has his sights set on New England's Wes Welker.

It wasn't easy chasing after the speedy Amendola, who had seven catches for 41 yards in the Jets' 27-13 road win. But Lankster knows he's better prepared for Thursday night's game against the Patriots.

"He warmed me up for Wes Welker, I can tell ya that," he said with a smile.

Lankster has taken over the nickel cornerback position in the absence of Isaiah Trufant, who was placed on season-ending injured reserve with a knee injury. And it didn't take Lankster long to feel more confident. The third-year corner repeatedly wagged his finger and playfully taunted Rams players after his coverage resulted in an incompletion.

"That's how the defense is here," said the affable, and often reserved, defensive back. "You cannot play scared here. 'Cause if you play scared, you're not going to get on the field. So as the Jets saying [goes], you have to play relentless. So that's what I try to do."

Rex Ryan complimented the young cornerback, saying Lankster "did pretty well" against Amendola. The coach did, however, point out the defensive back's offside penalty on a third down. "And we can't have that," Ryan said. "There were other times where he did a tremendous job for us. This is going to be a huge challenge for him playing against New England and for all of us in the back end.

"Communication has to be sharp and obviously the physical talents of their receivers is something we have to be aware of. We have to do a great job of tackling. They do a lot of screen passes and you have to get some of these guys on the ground."

Although Amendola (5-11, 188) is a tad bigger than Welker (5-9, 185), Lankster knows the Patriots receiver will be a handful.

"Don't get me wrong now, you still can't sleep on Wes Welker," said the 5-9, 190-pound Lankster. "Wes Welker's still Wes Welker. Wes Welker also has Tom Brady throwing the ball, so that's another advantage right there. I ain't going to lie, it's going to be a good matchup.''

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