NFLPA passes new drug policy meaning Welker could play this Sunday
November 17, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker (83) is tackled by Kansas City Chiefs defensive back Husain Abdullah (39) during the first quarter at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Will Wes Welker play this Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs?
As the Denver Broncos put a bow on the game plan, that’s the biggest storyline as Week 2 nears. There was talk from ESPN’s Adam Schefter that the NFL and NFLPA hope to finalize a new drug policy Thursday night (Sept. 11). The latest update (as of Thursday night) is that the 32 player reps will vote on Friday. The Broncos representative is Von Miller. After heated discussion on Friday afternoon, the measure passed unanimously. The last hurdle to clear is the NFL approving it, which should come Friday night or Saturday. It’s more likely that comes Saturday.
That means Welker could play on Sunday against Kansas City. Whether he should is another question.
Since Welker has been cleared from the concussion he suffered in the third preseason game against the Houston Texans, the question is still there but it changes slightly.
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Is it worth it to play him? I have said that Denver should sit him the first six to eight games to make sure he’s right. He’s a luxury Peyton Manning and the Broncos don’t need to use right now. Welker is like 4-wheel drive. Save him for the end of the season to navigate the roughest terrain. Denver doesn’t need Welker in September. It needs him in January and February.
What’s the point of that high-end luxury item if you waste it when you don’t need to?
Since he’s been cleared and the suspension is set for removal, all signs point to Welker playing.
The hope is the walking-concussion-waiting-to-happen doesn’t suffer another one before the Broncos need him. It’s fair to presume that offensive coordinator Adam Gase has included him in the game plan. It’s not as if Welker is a rookie who is new to this offense. Welker knows what to do.
It will do the team well to get him reps with Manning and the offense before they play the Seattle Seahawks next week. Unlike the Super Bowl, it would be nice to see Denver as close to full strength as possible. That one game gives the offense another week to work out the kinks, even though Denver scored 31 points. Prior to Manning, the Broncos scored at least 31 points twice in the 2011 season. Since his arrival, Denver has done it 24-of-33 games.
Sep 7, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos running back Montee Ball (28) rushes as tackle Ryan Clady (78) assists in the fourth quarter against the Indianapolis Colts at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos defeated the Colts 31-24. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
The other question about the offense that is a hot-topic item for Broncos Country: the Broncos’ running game. It’s not about the effectiveness but whether Gase and head coach John Fox will continue to stay with it. There’s no doubt when the offensive line gels, the running game has the potential to dominate.
Denver needs to be able to run the football when everyone knows it will run it. The Broncos couldn’t do that against the Colts. But it was the first game of the season and the biggest strides teams see in a season come in Week 2.
It’s not about where Denver is right now, it’s about where they want and hope to be in January. For that to happen, despite what some believe, the Broncos need to be able to run the football. They have to be balanced so teams like Seattle can’t put their sole focus on the passing game. The more effective the team is at running the ball, the less time the Denver defense spends on the field.
The big thing with the defense is consistency.
The Broncos can’t let a giant tight end run untouched down the sideline for a 41-yard touchdown. The defense needs to play 60 minutes, as cliché as it is. The same is true with the offense.
Again, the biggest strides teams make in a season come in Week 2. There were five Broncos in Week 1 who played their first “real” game since suffering injuries last season. Four players played their first game for Denver. On the offensive line, two were in new positions for the Broncos. Not to mention the rookies, but Bradley Roby looked and played like a veteran.
Rest assured Denver will look better against Kansas City.
What would help is to get an answer on the status of Welker. If that comes, at least one question gets crossed off and there’s another reason to get excited for Sunday.
Sep 7, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Indianapolis Colts running back Trent Richardson (34) is tackled during the second half against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports