Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Welker can't wait to play again

Broncos receiver Wes Welker was on pace for his sixth 100-catch season before getting hurt Dec. 8. He finishes with 73 but still catches a career-high 10 touchdown passes.

Getty Images

Broncos receiver Wes Welker was on pace for his sixth 100-catch season before getting hurt Dec. 8. He finishes with 73 but still catches a career-high 10 touchdown passes.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Wes Welker says he has no apprehension as he returns to Denver's lineup today.

Welker missed 3½ games after sustaining his second concussion in a four-week span Dec. 8 against Tennessee. It's the longest the 10-year pro has been sidelined. (He missed one playoff game after tearing his left ACL in Week 17 of 2009, then returned in Week 1 of 2010.)

Four days after the second concussion, Denver missed him in a 27-20 loss to San Diego. It was just 2-of-9 on third down and suffered its only home loss of the season. Denver won 28-10 in San Diego, and the rubber match is today's AFC division playoff game.

Welker, 32, has missed only four other games during his career.

"So I'm very anxious to get back," he said.

Welker was cleared during last week's bye and quickly regained his rhythm with quarterback Peyton Manning.

"When you've played as long as I have, it comes back pretty quick," Welker said. "I really wasn't too worried about that."

He also said he's not going to fret about the possibility of another head injury when he lines up in the slot today.

"I don't worry about the concussions or anything like that," he said. "I just focus on my assignment, my technique and go out there and play the best I can."

Welker, 5 feet 9, 190 pounds, caught a career-high 10 touchdowns in his first season with Manning after spending the past six catching passes from Tom Brady in New England. He was on pace for his sixth 100-catch season before getting hurt and finished with 73 for 778 yards.

Welker will not be sneaking under the Chargers' radar.

"He's one of the best slot receivers of all time," San Diego coach Mike McCoy said, "so his production, wherever he's been, speaks for itself. So you've got to know where he is every play."

The Chargers used their version of Welker for their scout team last week: practice squad player Dan DePalma. The 5-foot-11, 192-pounder also played the role of Welker for the Giants' scout squad two years ago, when they beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl.

"It's just film study, knowing his movements and the way he runs his routes, depths," said DePalma, 24, a standout at Division II West Chester who has not appeared in an NFL game. "Every little thing counts for a defense, especially when it comes down to technique and every play."

Chargers safety Eric Weddle said they will use a couple of different players on Welker.

And with 15-25 mph winds expected, Denver's downfield passing attack to Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker might be curtailed. That could mean an even bigger role for Welker.

"I don't know if it's going to be windy enough to affect the passing game or not," Welker said. "But you just have to focus in and be ready."


Chargers (10-7) at Broncos (13-3)

When/where: 4:40; Sports Authority Field, Denver

TV/radio: Ch. 10; 98.7-FM, 1010-AM

Line: Broncos by 9, 55

The skinny: San Diego is a big underdog despite winning 27-20 four weeks ago in Denver. The Chargers have road wins this season against the Eagles, Chiefs, Broncos and, last week, the Bengals in an AFC wild-card game. Ryan Mathews tied season highs with 29 carries and 127 yards in the win at Denver. Broncos QB Peyton Manning has 14 TDs and one interception over his past four games. In its win, San Diego was the only team not to allow Denver a pass play longer than 22 yards and held Manning to 289 passing yards, his second fewest in 2013. Denver won 28-10 in San Diego in November.

Greg Auman's pick: Broncos 38, Chargers 27

Welker can't wait to play again 01/11/14 [Last modified: Saturday, January 11, 2014 9:07pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Storm routs Cleveland


    TAMPA — Alvin Ray Jackson intercepted two passes, returning one for a touchdown, and recovered two fumbles as the Storm routed Cleveland 57-27 Saturday night in its home regular-season finale at Amalie Arena.

  2. Miscue sends Rays to another stinging loss to Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays gave away DJ Kitty onesies on Saturday night. Then they gave away the game.

    Centerfielder Mallex Smith misses a drive hit by Adrian Beltre with two outs in the sixth, allowing the tying runs to score. Beltre put Texas ahead 4-3 when he scored after two wild pitches.
  3. Rowdies shut out Charleston


    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rowdies know a thing or two about stalemates, with five of their past 10 games ending in a draw.

    Rowdies in the first half during the game between Tampa Bay Rowdies and the Charleston Battery at Al Lang Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Saturday, Jul 22, 2017.
  4. Rays journal: Former closer Sergio Romo acquired from Dodgers

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays made a move to help the bullpen Saturday night when they acquired RHP Sergio Romo, who had been designated for assignment last week by the Dodgers.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi (23) throwing in the first inning of the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, July 7, 2017.
  5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. backs wife's "not worth risk'' opinion on Daytona

    Auto racing

    INDIANAPOLIS — Dale Earnhardt Jr. on Saturday defended his wife's Twitter post — and blamed himself for putting her in a position where she believed she had to speak out and upset some of his fans.

    Amy Earnhardt worries about Dale Jr.’s concussions.