Three key Broncos return to practice

Wes Welker, trying to elude the Titans’ Jason McCourty, practices for Denver for the first time since a Dec. 8 concussion.

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Wes Welker, trying to elude the Titans’ Jason McCourty, practices for Denver for the first time since a Dec. 8 concussion.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Broncos got their three W's back at practice on Christmas Day: Wes Welker, Derek Wolfe and Kayvon Webster.

It's unlikely that Welker and Wolfe will play against the Raiders in the regular-season finale Sunday, but both were cleared to practice after prolonged absences and are working to regain their timing and conditioning.

Welker's practice was his first since he suffered a second concussion Dec. 8. The receiver was allowed to participate on a limited basis according to the league's concussion protocol.

"It was good to see him out there," coach John Fox said.

The Broncos have struggled to convert third downs since losing Welker just before halftime against the Titans three weeks ago.

"Yeah, we'd like to stay on the field more," quarterback Peyton Manning said. "That's definitely a point of emphasis that we can improve on."

Wolfe hadn't practiced since having a seizure-like episode on the team bus trip to the airport Nov. 29 before the Broncos flew to Kansas City. The defensive end had been working out with the team's training staff for a couple of weeks.

Webster practiced for the first time since the cornerback had right thumb surgery Dec. 13, a day after breaking it in two places against the Chargers.

RODGERS WAITS: Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said he'll know today whether he'll return from a broken collarbone Sunday against the Bears. Rodgers, who has missed eight games, said Tuesday on his radio show that he was feeling better, but the decision would be up to the medical staff. Also, Packers linebacker Clay Matthews will miss the game after aggravating a right thumb injury.

BELICHICK'S THEORY: Patriots coach Bill Belichick blamed recently instituted NFL rules shortening offseason practice time for what he claims to be an increase in injuries. "I'm in favor of total preparation for the players for the season," said Belichick, who said players are more vulnerable to being hurt because they're less prepared. "And I think that's been changed significantly and, I would say, not necessarily for the better when you look at the injury numbers."

ROMO'S STATUS: Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said quarterback Tony Romo, who has a herniated disc, was feeling better but was not "overly comfortable" heading into Sunday's game against the Eagles. ESPN has reported that Romo is unlikely to play. Kyle Orton is expected to make his first start in two seasons.

CHARGERS: Coach Mike McCoy said he expects running back Ryan Mathews to play against the Chiefs despite missing practice because of an injured left ankle.

GIANTS: Safety Cooper Taylor went on injured reserve about two weeks after he injured his hamstring.

LIONS: Tight end Brandon Pettigrew went on injured reserve with an injured ankle.

SAINTS: Safety Terrence Frederick was signed off the Browns' practice squad, and safety Kenny Vaccaro went on injured reserve with a broken left ankle.

Three key Broncos return to practice 12/25/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 25, 2013 9:57pm]

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