The Denver Broncos should start preparing for life without Wes Welker. I’m not a Doctor and I won’t pretend to know what his prognosis is after his third concussion in less than a year. I do know this; however, it’s only going to get worse.
The more concussions you have, the more likely you are to get more and Welker has had enough all ready. Repeated concussions do have a long-term impact on the quality of life and both the Broncos and Welker need to think about his future. That, at this point, is more important than football.
As for on the field, the loss of Welker will obviously hurt the Broncos if he’s out for an extended period of time but it’s not a crushing blow. The Broncos would probably move Emmanuel Sanders inside, and start Andre Caldwell on the outside. Rookie Cody Latimer would be counted on a little more than before, but he’s very capable and would get better with each passing week. In short, the Broncos have more than enough weapons even without Welker.
As for Saturday’s preseason game versus the Houston Texans, there were some things I liked and some things I didn’t.
What I liked:
- Running game: The Broncos with Peyton Manning at quarterback are never going to be a running team, but they can be better. On Saturday night, they ran effectively on the first drive and ate up half of the first quarter before kicking a field goal.
- Montee Ball/Von Miller: The Broncos wanted to get both of these players some work, and then get them out. Ball looked strong running the ball and also caught a couple of passes. Miller was explosive and almost intercepted a screen pass in the backfield.
- Ronnie Hillman: Hillman has made this team and he will be a key contributor. On Saturday, he had several inside runs where he broke tackles and continues to hang onto the football. The talent has always been there but maybe the light bulb has finally gone on.
- Emmanuel Sanders: Broncos’ fans finally saw what Sanders brings to this offense. He has the ability to take the top off of a defense, and he did it twice on Saturday night.
- Peyton Manning: Yes he played well again but that’s not what I liked. I liked the leadership he showed in sticking up for Welker after he was knocked out by a questionable hit.
What I didn’t like:
- Injury to Welker: We talked about Welker in detail above, but that was the most disappointing thing about Saturday.
- Matt Prater: We did not find out about this situation until Sunday, but Prater has been suspended for four games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. The Broncos can and will survive for four games without Prater, but the Pro Bowl kicker has let his teammates down.
- Brock Osweiler: After a stellar game last week, Osweiler took some steps backwards on Saturday night. He will start and play most of the game versus the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday night. If all goes according to plan, he won’t take a meaningful snap in 2014.
- Second team offensive line: Osweiler did not get a lot of help as he was under pressure all night. Eventually a starter on the offensive line is going to go down for at least a game or two and the Broncos will need one or two of those guys the step in and play well.
The Broncos have one more preseason game left on Thursday versus the Cowboys and that game will be all about players trying to make the team. The preseason is over for the starters and the next time we see them will be on September 7th versus the Indianapolis Colts.