Lions receiver Nate Burleson says he wants the passing game in Detroit to model itself after the great New England team of 2007, with Calvin Johnson playing the Randy Moss role, and Burleson himself fitting in as the Wes Welker.
“This year I’m going to try to be the black Wes Welker,” Burleson said today on NFL Network. “I’m going to get as many catches in that slot or on the outside opposite Calvin because he’s going to attract a lot of attention all year.”
In 2007 Moss set an NFL record with 23 receiving touchdowns, while Welker led the league with 112 catches. Through two games this year Johnson is tied for the league lead with four touchdown catches, while Burleson is leading the Lions with 12 catches.
Burleson played with Moss in 2003 and 2004 in Minnesota, and he says he learned then that it’s a lot easier to be a slot receiver if there’s an outside threat like Moss or Johnson on the team.
“One of the biggest factors with me signing with Detroit was Calvin Johnson, hands down,” Burleson said. “Playing with Randy Moss, I know first hand the benefits of playing with a guy who is going to attract a lot of attention. Calvin, by far, in my opinion is the best wide receiver in the league. If you haven’t been paying attention, four touchdowns in two games: The guy is pretty much showing everybody that he is.”
And if Burleson can benefit from Johnson’s presence to the tune of a Welker-like role in the slot, the Lions will gladly take that.