Editor's note: This is the second part in a series that spotlights three Raiders-Broncos matchups to watch Monday, 5:40 p.m., at Sports Authority Field at Mile High
Raiders CB Tracy Porter vs. Broncos WR Wes Welker
Tale of the tape:
Porter (23) : 5-foot-11, 188 pounds, sixth season, Indiana
Welker (83) : 5-foot-9, 185 pounds, tenth season, Texas Tech
Denver Broncos receiver Wes Welker and quarterback Peyton Manning have played just two games together, yet they already seem to share a brain. They developed great chemistry this offseason with significant work away from school, and now seem in near-perfect sync.
Welker has 12 catches for 106 yards and three touchdowns in two games, and has done so by being his old cerebral self.
He always seems to make the right read and the right route adjustment. Manning, above all else, respects that.
Making reads is one thing. Getting open is another.
As an expert preventing production in the slot, Raiders Tracy Porter knows exactly why.
“He’s slippery,” Porter said. “He’s a guy who can get loose and make plays with the ball.”
It’ll generally be Porter’s job to ensure that doesn’t happen often. The veteran, who plays outside in the base defense and slot corner in the nickel, knows that won’t be easy.
“I love challenges, and covering Wes will be my biggest challenge thus far,” Porter said. “He’s a shifty guy who knows how to get that inch of separation required to make a catch. It’s going to be up to me to keep my eyes in the right place, to keep the proper technique, to get my hands on him when I can and play proper leverage. The key is to stay home and play smart.”
Porter played better Sunday than the week before, registered three pass break ups and just 47 yards on five receptions.
There will be added motivation on Monday night, playing against his former team. He played just five games with Denver, missing most of the season with complications from a seizure.
“We know Tracy pretty well. You guys got him from us,” Broncos head coach John Fox said. “We’re familiar with him, and right now, he’s playing well. He played well for us until he had some medical issues. He’s playing at a high level like he did for us when he was healthy. On some downs he comes in at the nickel. He’s a smart, aware guy that we have to be aware of.”
This matchup will be crucial to the final result. Manning is reliant on Welker’s elusiveness, especially in crucial spots. Any slowing of that production – which often comes on third down – will help the Raiders stay competitive.
“He’s going to be a big part of the offense. You know it,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. “On defense, we have to disturb him, we have to be physical, do some of the things that we’ve done already but improve on a lot of the stuff we’ve made mistakes with.”