ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --To anybody still clinging to the belief that Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker intentionally hit then-Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib in the playoffs last season: You can drop the conspiracy theory.
Within Talib's first minute in front of Denver media in March after he signed with the Broncos, he proactively addressed the matter, saying with a smile, "I watched the play a thousand times and I can promise you, he didn't do it on purpose."
Tuesday, Welker seemed amused when asked if the two remained friends from their days with the Patriots.
"Yeah, we got along really well in New England and we're still really good friends, no matter what anybody thinks from the AFC Championship Game," Welker said. "We've always gotten along really well and we continue to."
Talib couldn't finish the game, which Denver won 26-16, after suffering a deep bruise on a collision with Welker early in the second quarter. However, both players have made it clear that there isn't any hatchet to bury.
"Me and Wes, we good," Talib said on NFL Network two weeks ago. "It's a football play. You see that play happen more than one time. It just so happened that it happened on a stage."
"That kind of made it a big deal."
The two Pro Bowl players arrived via free agency from the rival Patriots in consecutive years, both citing quarterback Peyton Manning's presence as a big motivator to come to Denver. Beyond taking similar routes to the Broncos, the two share similar playing styles. The notoriously tough Welker said he admires the physicality that Talib shows on the field.
"He's a confident guy -- I don't want to say scrappy, just because he's kind of a bigger guy," Welker said. "He mixes it up pretty well out there and I think he intimidates a lot of guys with his size and does a great job of transitioning as well for as tall as he is."
Both players have an important presence in the locker room as well, despite joining the team fairly recently. Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio said Talib is a "good communicator" and has "been terrific in meeting with some of the younger players."
Welker, who was voted a captain after Week 2 last season, isn't shy about sharing his experience with others either.
"Wes has been nothing but a huge advantage for us as far as being able to have almost another coach on the field," Offensive Coordinator Adam Gase said.
As Talib becomes the second Patriot in as many years to "switch schools," as he calls it, he and Welker seem to be picking up right where they left off.