Feb 2, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker (83) is tackled by Seattle Seahawks outside linebacker K.J. Wright (50) in the second half in Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Wes Welker is back.
His return is effective Tuesday night (Sept. 16) and he will practice for the Denver Broncos on Wednesday morning, according to ESPN’s Ed Werder. The hold up was the final language between the NFL and NFLPA on a new drug policy that should now last several years. Players were informed they’ve satisfied terms of their suspensions on Tuesday night, according to Werder, indicating the agreement on the new policy has been reached. A formal announcement should come by morning.
The Welker fiasco is over. Finally.
What it means for Peyton Manning and the Broncos is the best slot receiver in the NFL is back. It means another weapon that defenses, this week it’s Seattle, have to prepare for.
Yes, the Seahawks had to do that for the Super Bowl but there are two big differences between then and now: Emmanuel Sanders and Ryan Clady.
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Sanders is a game-changer. His speed, toughness and ability is such a drastic upgrade over Eric Decker it’s not funny. Sanders will have more than one catch this Sunday, not disappear when he faces physical play or trip on yard lines.
Welker and Sanders is a fun element for Manning and his offense. For defenses it’s a nightmare; especially when you add Demaryius and Julius Thomas to the mix. My hope is rookie Cody Latimer gets a chance Sunday. Against a physical defense like Seattle’s, the Broncos need all the tough guys they can get. In the preseason game against San Francisco, Latimer proved he can play with attitude.
The other change is Clady. He didn’t play in the Super Bowl and it was apparent. Manning didn’t have the time to count to two, let alone complete passes to his receivers.
Sep 14, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (10) catches a pass during the first half against the Kansas City Chiefs at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
The return of Welker compliments and plays off both. For the first time this season, Denver’s offense is completely healthy. Gase can now put forth a complete game plan and trust that everyone will do their job. Andre Caldwell got the chance and dropped it – literally. The peace of mind Welker’s return gives Manning and Gase is invaluable.
Since he got his concussion, I’ve stated that the Broncos should sit Welker six to eight games. I compared him to 4-wheel drive in that you don’t need him in September. So what you do is save him for when you need him most: when the terrain becomes rough in January and February.
That won’t happen.
Since Welker has cleared the concussion protocol, he will play Sunday. Despite what some would have you believe, the Denver offense has still been effective and efficient. The lack of consistency in the second half needs to improve, and it will. Even with that, the Broncos still scored on 4-of-7 possessions against the Kansas City Chiefs for a 57.1 percentage. Last season’s record-setting offense scored on 96-of-202 possessions for 47.5 percent. Welker’s return should only improve that … if he stays healthy.
Regardless, Welker’s back and the speculation is over.
Is it possible to wrap his head in bubble wrap just to make sure?
Feb 2, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker (83) runs against Seattle Seahawks free safety Earl Thomas (29) during the second half in Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim O