Denver entered the offseason licking its wounds after getting blown out by Seattle in the Super Bowl. Now, just days before the start of a new season, the Broncos have again been hit with adversity. Wide receiver Wes Welker will have to sit out four games after failing an offseason test for performance-enhancing drugs.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, who broke the story, the PEDs in question are amphetamines. Welker has already lost his appeal, so Denver will be without his pass-catching prowess until Oct. 12 at the earliest. That falls in Week 6 of the NFL season; Denver has a Week 4 bye, which won’t count toward Welker’s games missed.
The suspension is obviously a blow for Peyton Manning and Co., but Schefter did point out a small silver lining:
With his four-game suspension, Broncos WR Wes Welker now will get an involuntarily break from his concussions.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 2, 2014
Welker suffered his third concussion in 10 months during the preseason, and he hadn’t yet been cleared to play. So this long layoff, while embarrassing at the very least, could be a blessing in disguise if it helps Welker fully overcome his head-injury issues. In the meantime, of course, the Broncos will have to figure out how to replace a second major member of last season’s record-setting offense, as they previously had lost wide receiver Eric Decker in free agency.
Wes Welker and Eric Decker accounted for 85% of the Broncos slot WR routes last season. Big hole to fill.
— Pete Damilatis (@PFF_Pete) September 2, 2014