Wes Welker says he has no apprehensions about concussions or rust as he returns to the Denver Broncos’ lineup today for the first time in more than a month.
It’s the longest the 10-year pro has ever been sidelined.
Welker missed the Broncos’ last 3½ games after sustaining his second concussion in a four-week span just before halftime in a game against Tennessee on Dec. 8.
The Broncos sorely missed him four days later in a 27-20 loss to San Diego, when they were just 2-for-9 on third down and suffered their only home loss of the season.
Denver (13-3) hosts the Chargers (10-7) today in the AFC Divisional round.
“One of the first times I’ve been out of the game on the sidelines, so I’m very anxious to get back,” said Welker, who was cleared last week during the bye and quickly regained his rhythm with Peyton Manning.
“Yeah, when you’ve played as long as I have it comes back pretty quick. I really wasn’t too worried about that,” Welker said.
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. I just focus on my assignment, my technique and go out there and play the best I can,” he said.
Welker caught a career-high 10 touchdown passes in his first season with Manning after spending his last six seasons catching passes from Tom Brady in New England. He was on pace for his sixth career 100-catch season before being sidelined and finished with 73 catches for 778 yards.
With 15-25 mph winds expected, Denver’s downfield passing attack to Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker might be curtailed against the Chargers, which could put an even bigger emphasis on Welker’s routes.
“I don’t know if it’s going to be windy enough to affect the passing game or not but you just have to focus in and be ready,” Welker said. “I think it will affect the kicking game more than anything if it is windy.”
FALCONS HIRE BRYAN COX — The Atlanta Falcons hired Bryan Cox from Tampa Bay as defensive line coach. Cox replaces Ray Hamilton, who was fired after a 4-12 season. Cox coached the Buccaneers’ defensive front seven and served as the pass rush specialist the last two seasons. Cox helped develop such players as defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who had 14 sacks the last two seasons.
AROUND THE LEAGUE — Wide receiver Deion Branch is inactive for the Indianapolis Colts against his former team in an AFC divisional-round game Also inactive is wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey with a hamstring injury. Patriots rookie wide receiver Aaron Dobson is inactive (foot). … The Chiefs have signed seven players to reserve/future contracts, including running back Joe McKnight.