The Denver Broncos faced their first true test in the stout Kansas City Chiefs defense Sunday night. They faced a legitimate pass rush and a nasty secondary that loves to play man coverage. Even with all of their weapons, that match-up against a top-tier defense showed the importance of Wes Welker.
Even with bigger and more athletic targets like Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas, and Eric Decker, Welker is still the match-up problem. He is still the reliable target on big plays and 3rd downs. He came up in big spots in Denver’s 27-17 victory Sunday night, bringing in eight of his 10 targets for 72 yards.
It is in that context that the Broncos received bad news on Monday when they learned that Welker suffered a concussion during the game and is at risk to miss time with two more huge games upcoming against the New England Patriots and in Kansas City against the Chiefs.
Interim head coach Jack Del Rio addressed Welker’s injury today (quotes from NFL.com):
It’s my understanding that we followed protocol…He was cleared to return and he had symptoms that flared up, or came up, and then he was pulled. So he’ll go through the protocol this week. The first concern, obviously, is to make sure he’s ready to return when the doctors give the green light. When we’ve been told that he’s able to go, then he’ll go. Until then, he’ll be following that protocol.”
There are some rumblings that the Broncos might have violated the league’s concussion protocol because Welker was back in the game after the play on which he suffered the injury. That will have to play out this week, as well as whether or not Welker will be available for what would have been his highly anticipated return to New England to face the Patriots.