JERSEY CITY -- Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman and his teammates in the "Legion of Boom," as the Seahawks' pass defenders style themselves, have vowed to deliver the pain as their chief defense against Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning on Sunday night in Super Bowl XLVIII.
On Thursday, veteran Broncos slot receiver Wes Welker essentially said, "Bring it." OK, those weren't his exact words.
Welker actually put it this way: "We have to play physical ourselves and make sure we're going out there and playing the way we need to and not letting them dictate our routes or how we play or anything else. We have to play our game."
Asked if the Broncos might take advantage of the Seahawks' aggressive tendencies, Welker said, "For sure."
How? Welker smiled and said, "We'll show it on Sunday."
Welker acknowledged intimidation is part of the package with the LOB, but he respects the Seahawks' straightforward, hard-hitting style. "They pretty much just line up and say, 'Hey, we are better than you, and we're going to beat you.' They do a great job and get pressure on the quarterback. Their defensive backs are instinctive and make plays. We will definitely have our hands full."
If anyone can stand up to Seahawks that go boom in the night, it's Welker, who is all of 5-9 and 185 pounds dripping wet. You don't last 10 seasons in the NFL at his size without toughness.
He long has been one of the most elusive moving targets running pass routes out of the slot, but Welker proved vulnerable this season, sustaining two concussions. After the first, he played the next week at New England, where he spent the previous six years before signing as a free agent with the Broncos.
Welker's second concussion on Dec. 8 against Tennessee caused him to miss the final three regular-season games after catching 73 passes for 778 yards and 10 touchdowns. Earlier this week, Welker said he'd play through a concussion in the Super Bowl, but that doesn't mean he isn't grateful for new rules designed to protect defenseless receivers from helmet-to-helmet hits.
"It has been great to see that they are trying to take care of players, especially since you are not getting those concussions back-to-back," Welker said. "The closer together you have them, the worse it is."
"They are scary deals. I have friends I played with that tell me they have issues with it now."
Welker's not backing down, but rather playing as smart as he can to limit contact over the middle of the field. "You try not to take those big hits," Welker said, "but you make sure you're trying to get first downs and making plays and helping your team move the ball."
In two previous Super Bowl appearances, he totaled 18 catches for 163 yards for the Patriots, but he came away with two losses to the Giants. "That feeling of losing that game, I mean, it's heartbreaking," Welker said. "It definitely sticks with you and motivates you for the future. I'm definitely blessed to have this opportunity again."