Welker hit with 4-game PED ban

Englewood, CO ( - The Denver Broncos will be without one of their offensive weapons to begin the 2014 NFL season, as the league informed the team Tuesday that slot receiver Wes Welker has been suspended four games for violating its policy on performance-enhancing substances.

ESPN reported that Welker tested positive for an amphetamine and had appealed the penalty two weeks ago, which the league rejected Tuesday.

The five-time Pro Bowl selection will be eligible to return following Denver's Week 5 tilt against Arizona on Oct. 5. The Broncos are on a bye the previous week.

"Tonight's news regarding Wes is very disappointing for our team, but we understand the league's authority in this area," Broncos head coach John Fox said in a statement. "While it's unfortunate to not have him to start the year, I have full confidence in our wide receivers and expect that group to continue playing at a high level."

Welker will miss what looks to be a very tough stretch of games for the Broncos to begin the season. After opening with home dates against a pair of 2013 playoff teams, Indianapolis and Kansas City, the Broncos will travel to Seattle for a Super Bowl XLVIII rematch against the Seahawks.

The 33-year-old Welker set a career high with 10 touchdown catches in his first season with the Broncos in 2013. The former New England Patriot recorded 73 overall receptions totaling 778 yards in 13 games.

Emmanuel Sanders is expected to move from the outside to fill Welker's slot receiver role, with either veteran Andre Caldwell or 2014 second-round pick Cody Latimer seeing increased snaps in the Broncos' three-receiver sets.