Can Welker produce without Moss?

Posted Oct. 13, 2010 @ 6:19 p.m.
Posted By Kevin Fishbain

Each Wednesday throughout the season we'll identify one player, coach or area of the team that is most under the microscope. This week, WR Wes Welker is the choice.

All eyes will be on the Patriots' passing game sans Randy Moss, and they have their work cut out for them going up against the Ravens' defense.

Many people have said that the player affected most by the Moss trade will be Wes Welker. Welker leads the Patriots through four games in receptions (26) and receiving touchdowns (three). Observers have attributed Welker's success over the years to Moss, that Moss' ability to stretch the defense has opened up space for Welker in the slot, and that's why he's led the league in receptions twice (2007 and 2009).

With Moss gone and WR Brandon Tate not yet established as a deep threat that teams need to account for in their game plans, the pressure is on Tom Brady and Welker to continue their successful connection they have had since 2007. Will teams bring their safeties up and look to now take Welker out of games the way they used to with Moss? We will have an idea on Sunday as one of the top defenses in the league gets the first stab at shutting down a Moss-less Patriots offense.

As has been said here all week, the Patriots have prepared this season to play without Moss and are excellent in the short-range passing game, where Welker shines. With a true weapon in rookie TE Aaron Hernandez and the speedster Tate, plus reacquired WR Deion Branch, it will be hard for teams to afford to take Welker out of play. But the biggest question since the minute Moss was dealt to the Vikings is how would that affect Welker's production, and we will see a glimpse on Sunday.