By Court Zierk @courtzierk on September 2, 2014
With the news coming out this evening that Denver Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker has been banned by the NFL for four games due to his violation of the substance abuse policy, Broncos fans are wondering how this will impact their team. I believe that the impact will be minimal, and in many ways, this is the best thing that could have happened to Welker. Here are five reasons why the Broncos will be fine without him.
Montee Ball is looking to firmly establish himself among the upper echelon of NFL running backs, and he will get his opportunity with the Broncos most clutch possession receiver out. Between Ball, C.J. Anderson and the surprising Juwan Thompson, the Broncos should be able to grind out those tough short yards. Also, tight end Jacob Tamme is essentially a slot receiver, and should be able to fill some of the void left by Welker.
Four games does not make or break a season, especially early on the schedule. It is far more important that the Broncos finish strong than to have them storm out of the gate. Their first two games against the Colts and Chiefs likely wouldn’t have featured Welker much anyway, and although he may have been asked to answer the bell against the Seahawks and the Cardinals, the Broncos have enough other weapons to get by.
The Broncos brought in Emmanuel Sanders this offseason with the understanding that this would likely be Welker’s last season anyway. Sanders is much more explosive, and although he may not be as tough nosed as Welker, he will find other ways to get open in space. Cody Latimer was drafted to replace Eric Decker’s productivity, but given his strong showing in camp and throughout preseason, he may be able to provide some reps in the slot as well.
This may be a blessing in disguise for Welker, who was coming off of his third concussion in ten months, and appeared to be dead set on playing Week 1. I thought he would be wise to sit out until after the Broncos bye week (Week 4) anyway, to allow his symptoms to fully dissipate. This may actually be the best possible thing for his long-term health, and maybe he can actually make it through the rest of the season concussion-free.
What else needs to be said? Peyton Manning has made even the most mediocre receivers look like Pro Bowlers. Austin Collie and Anthony Gonzalez come to mind. He still has plenty of weapons to choose from and Welker’s absence shouldn’t impact this Broncos team like it may have last season. The Broncos are loaded with more offensive depth than most teams in the NFL. They will be just fine.
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