Peyton Manning is nothing if not prepared.
Manning revealed to the media on Wednesday to the media that the Denver Broncos had planned on Welker being suspended if the league decided to uphold it’s ruling, which they obviously did (Per ESPN).
“I guess I wasn’t shocked, I guess (I) had an idea it might be happening,” Manning said. “It was something we prepared for.”
It’s a big blow for the Broncos, but one they are perfectly capable of absorbing. Welker is a strong veteran receiver with phenomenal third down and red zone ability. He will certainly be missed, but the Broncos made moves this offseason to prepare for Welker’s eventual departure. Having him on the roster is a luxury, one the Broncos certainly aren’t excited about losing, but it’s not the end of the world for him to be out for a few games.
For one, Welker may have needed the time — maybe not four weeks, but… — to completely recover from a concussion he suffered against Houston. He may have passed through protocol this week and been able to play, but the risk will perhaps go down with an extended time off.
Another reason this benefits the Broncos is that Welker’s absence will provide Cody Latimer an opportunity to get more reps in the offense. Latimer has been a beast at training camp, and showed flashes in the preseason of the great receiver I think he’s going to be.
With a combination of Jacob Tamme, Andre Caldwell, and Latimer, the Broncos will be absolutely fine at receiver, especially when you consider that Welker may have been the fourth option anyway behind Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, and Julius Thomas.
Oh by the way, those three are all still out there too.
The Broncos can also get Montee Ball more involved in the passing game if they so choose.
“It’s the third year running we’ve had a starting player suspended at the start of the season,” Manning said. “That’s not something the Broncos want to brag about, but it’s the reality. We’ve been able to still win games despite that. So no question it’s a test; we’ll see how we handle this test.”
Manning is great friends with Welker off the field, so this has to be a tough situation for all involved parties. When Welker comes back, the Broncos will be taking on the New York Jets.