Menu

Football

Denver Broncos get slot receiver Wes Welker back from concussion in time for playoffs

Wes Welker says he has no apprehensions about concussions or rust as he returns to the Denver Broncos' lineup Sunday 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) Sunday 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 Sunday.

"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 TD 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.

Welker was one of the several free agents the Broncos signed last winter in the wake of their devastating 38-35 double-overtime loss to Baltimore in the playoffs last year.

"I suffered disappointment, too, last year," said Welker, whose Patriots were beaten by the Ravens 28-13 in the AFC championship a week later. "I'm just as hungry as everybody else and want to get out there and play my best."

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."

___

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

___

Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton