The first thing I said upon Wes Welker signing with the Denver Broncos in the off season is “Awesome. Now we don’t have to play against him.”
This week’s game has been circled on Patriots fans’ calendars for many reasons. Sure, there’s the 14th meeting between Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, but there’s also Welker’s return to face his former team.
In his six seasons in New England, Welker had 672 receptions for 7,459 yards, had 37 touchdowns. You think they don’t still love him?
That’s why Welker’s concussion diagnosis put a hiccup in the storyline of yet another big game for the Broncos this season.
Welker got hit against the Chiefs last week, was examined on the sideline for a neck injury by team doctors, and returned to the game. One catch later, the concussion symptoms came on, and he was removed for the rest of the game.
He must pass a concussion test administered by team doctors and then another test administered by an independent physician as NFL protocol requires. Only then will Welker play against the Patriots.
Medical opinion aside, former teammate Tom Brady thinks there’s no doubt Welker will play.
“I’ve been around [Welker] long enough to know what he’s all about,” Brady said during an interview with WEEI sports radio in Boston. “He loves playing football, and if there’s a chance for him to play, especially coming back here, he’s definitely going to be out there. I’ve got no question about that.” – Tom Brady (ESPN)
“He’s a tough guy,” Manning added. “He plays through injuries. Those are things you appreciate about a football player, especially one playing in that slot position when he’s taking a lot of hits and playing a physical game every single Sunday.”
Welker didn’t practice Wednesday, but that’s not a good indicator of his game status. Remember when Chris Harris suffered a “minor” concussion in the first half against the Cowboys? He was out the rest of the game, but then was good to go the following week against the Jaguars and actually led the Broncos in tackles.
Patriots fans won’t exactly be too excited to have to face Welker with an injured secondary of their own. Plus, Welker has nine touchdowns so far. The most he ever had with the Patriots in a full season was nine.
The guy who the Patriots hoped would fill the void when Welker left is Danny Amendola. He has 29 receptions and one touchdown in six games.
You can bet the Patriots will be drooling over the guy they didn’t seem to value in the warmer months.