Wes Welker Suspended 4 Games By The NFL

Yesterday, Denver Broncos Wide Receiver, Wes Welker, was suspended 4 games by the NFL. How does it affect the team's matchup vs the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday Night?

Of all the Denver Broncos players I would have least expected to get suspended by the league, next to Peyton Manning, it would have been Wes Welker.

Welker came to the Broncos via free agency in 2013, following 6 seasons with the Evil Empire; the New England Patriots.

There are several rumors floating around about how Welker failed a league mandated drug screen, but the word "amphetemines" has been mentioned.

In his frist season with the Broncos, Welker helped the Peyton Manning-led offense soar to new heights. Record-setting heights.

606. That's how many points the Broncos scored in 2013. It is now the NFL record. Wes Welker was a huge part of that.

Welker is a player who is always open. And his value to the team is never more apparent than on 3rd down. In 2013, the Broncos were 2nd in the NFL, converting 46.3% of their 3rd down opportunities. Only the San Diego Chargers fared better.

In 2013, Welker caught 73 passes, for 778 yards and 10 TDs. Believe it or not, that mark of 10 TDs is a career high for Welker. Welker's production would have been even more prolific, had he not suffered two concussions in season, which caused him to miss multiple games.

Long story short, Welker is going to be missed in the Broncos offense through the first 4 games of the season. He'll be eligible to return in week 6 vs the New York Jets.

Fortunately, the Broncos have been aware of this pending league action, so you know they've developed a contingency plan. In the offseason, the Broncos added two talented receivers. One from free agency; namely, Emmanuel Sanders. And one from the 2nd round of the draft; Cody Latimer.

We can expect to see a lot of both of these guys over the next 4 games. It should be mentioned that the Broncos also extended Andre "Bubba" Caldwell, and he could also be called upon to contribute in the interim.

The way I see it is that when the Broncos run 11 personnel (3 WRs), they will likely move Sanders into the slot and Latimer will play outside opposite Demaryius Thomas.

With his elite speed and short area burst, Sanders can be an extremely effective slot receiver, especially in a Peyton Manning offense. He might not be as proficient as Welker in reading the opposing defensive set and finding the soft spot in the zone, but he'll make up for that with his speed and big play ability.

Cody Latimer has a similar skill-set as Demaryius Thomas. At 6'2, 215lbs, the former Indiana University product can use his excellent size to box out defenders and win contested balls.

At the end of the day, when you lose a slot receiver as experienced and savvy as Wes Welker, it's going to be a blow to the team. But under the leadership of General Manager, John Elway, the Broncos have positioned themselves well to compensate while Welker serves out his suspension.

Don't expect the Broncos offense to miss a beat on Sunday night vs the Indianapolis Colts. Manning might not throw 7 TDs again on opening night, but he's going to gash the Colts defense nonetheless.

Chad Jensen can be found on Twitter @CJ_Broncos.


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