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Welker Thrives in Leadership Role

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- When Wes Welker signed with San Diego as an undrafted free agent, he admired fellow wide receivers Tim Dwight and Eric Parker.

As he enters his 11th season in the NFL, he is now taking on the role as mentor for younger players, especially rookie receiver Isaiah Burse.

"It's funny how he was an undrafted free agent, too, and he became so successful," Burse said during rookie camp. "Just seeing him is kind of like a dream. For me, it's like I know I can do it. If he can do it -- not taking away from his ability or anything -- but I know if he can do it, I can do it. I want to learn everything from him so I can be successful, as well, in the future."

Welker stands at 5-foot-9 and Burse at 5-foot-10. Burse, who was also an undrafted free agent, identified with him when he was playing at Fresno State because of their similar body types. During rookie camp, Welker would sit down with Burse and answer any questions he had.

Though hearing that Burse has admired him for years makes him "feel old," Welker is glad to help the younger players develop and he just wants the Broncos "to be the best team possible," no matter who is on the field.

"I think you have to have that guy, that mentor, that guy, that older guy to kind of show you, not only through watching him in practice and everything else, but asking questions and trying to get on the same page, and understanding what he's seeing and why he ran his route like that, or whatever," Welker said. "You know, that's how you get better. And so that's good to see from those young guys wanting to get better and asking those questions."

New Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders is also trying to take advantage of Welker's extensive knowledge.

"Wes has been in the National Football League a long time," Sanders said. "He's been fortunate to play in a passing system. His knowledge of the game is up there with anybody, I'd put it against anyone. I just try to get under his wing and try to see what he thinks from a mental standpoint. So far it's been paying off."

In addition to Burse and Sanders, the rest of the team also appreciates Welker's leadership. After tackle Ryan Clady injured his foot in Week 2 last season, Welker was voted captain by his teammates, even though he had only played two games in orange and blue.

Despite scoring a career-high 10 touchdowns and racking up nearly 800 yards, Welker said last season wasn't his best and he sees areas in his came where he can improve. As he works to improve individually, he also does his part to help the team get better as a whole.

Offensive Coordinator Adam Gase said communicating with Welker when he first arrived in Denver was easy because he came from a system that he was already familiar with.

"His ability to communicate with the quarterback, he was so used to being with a guy that would discuss a lot of stuff, and it was a very similar situation that he walked into, to where our quarterback's going to be able to talk to you, and talk coverage, and talk scheme, and concept, and how can we adjust," Gase said. "Wes has been nothing but a huge advantage for us as far as being able to have almost another coach on the field."

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