Nate Burleson is now in his second year as a Detroit Lions wide receiver. The 30-year-old veteran has already benefited from having Matthew Stafford throwing to him, and he thinks highly of his young quarterback.
Burleson recently made some interesting comments during an interview with the NFL Network. After praising teammates Stafford and fellow receiver Calvin Johnson, Burleson said that he joked around in the offseason and called himself the "black Wes Welker."
With Johnson getting so much attention from opposing defenses, Burleson said he was going to try and get as many catches as he could while lining up opposite Calvin.
After the first two weeks of the season, Burleson looked like he was really trying to earn that nickname. He had the second most targets on the team in the first two games, second to Megatron of course.
Welker and Burleson are the same age. They have been in the league for years now—Welker eight and Burleson nine—and have gained the trust of their current quarterback. The only problem is Welker has been the center of his QB's attention.
Welker has had three seasons with 100+ catches, including a career high 123 receptions in 2009, a year where he only played 14 games.
He also has almost double the number of receptions than Burleson has for his career. Burleson does have the edge in touchdowns, though, with 33 scores compared to Welker's 27.
Putting all stats aside, do these two really even compare?
Welker is a stubby, hard nosed player who is really the main go-to-guy for Tom Brady. If you watched their game against the Buffalo Bills Sunday, you will see my point.
Burleson on the other hand is taller and more athletic, but has never caught more than 68 passes in a season. He's never really stepped up into a go-to receiver role, and injuries haven't helped his cause throughout his career.
He is listed as the No. 2 receiver on the Lions' depth chart, but there are quite a few players vying for targets on Detroit's roster.
The Patriots have plenty of options for Tom Brady to throw to, but he has proved game after game that he loves going to Welker. The offense in New England has been perfect for Welker to strive in.
For Burleson to be able to call himself the black version of Welker, he will have to do a lot more than he did this past weekend. He only caught two passes for 12 yards, and those were his only two targets. You know who else had two targets on the Lions? Maurice Morris and Jerome Harrison, that's not a good sign.
With youngsters Brandon Pettigrew and Titus Young becoming more noticeable to Stafford, Burleson is going to have to do his best Welker impression if he wants to stay relevant in this offense. He may have looked like a favorite in the preseason and the first two weeks of the regular season, but this week was not so kind to him.
Welker caught 16 passes for 217 yards and two touchdowns in New England's third game. Burleson has 14 catches for 165 yards this season and has yet to find the end zone. Nate, when you have a game like Welker did this past weekend, maybe then you can start running with that nickname of yours.