BOSTON (CBS) — For the first time in a long while, the biggest story line heading into a matchup between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning did not revolve around the two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks. It was instead the return of Wes Welker to Gillette Stadium, but that now may not happen at all.
Welker suffered a concussion on Sunday night during the Broncos’ 27-17 win over the Kansas City Chiefs, which puts his status for next weekend’s game in jeopardy. The team announced Sunday night that Welker was being evaluated for a concussion, and Pro Football Talk later reported that he did indeed suffer the injury.
According to NFL concussion protocol, Welker must undergo testing once he regains “baseline functioning.”
“A player feeling normal one day after the game might pass cognitive testing Tuesday and begin a light exercise program, intensify their exercise routine Wednesday, participate in non-contact aspects of practice on Thursday and return to full practice Friday,” NFL.com explains. “But if a player has a history of concussions or isn’t progressing as quickly as planned, the process moves accordingly.”
Welker suffered the injury early in the fourth quarter after taking a hit to his head while running over the middle. Welker remained down on a knee after the play, drawing the trainers to attend to him, but he did return to the game shortly after.
Welker, 32, is the Patriots’ franchise leader in receptions with 672, caught in his six seasons with the Patriots from 2007-12. He ranks second in franchise history with 7,459 yards, eighth with 37 touchdowns, and second in 100-yard receiving games with 28.
The Patriots allowed Welker to become a free agent, instead signing tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez to big-money deals, leading to the receiver signing with the Broncos. The Patriots made an offer to Welker, but the team reportedly signed Danny Amendola before Welker made his decision.
This season, Welker has 61 receptions for 648 yards and a career-high nine touchdowns. He was named a team captain after Ryan Clady’s season ended due to injury in September.
The last time Welker played in Gillette Stadium as a visitor was on Oct. 8, 2006, when he was a member of the Dolphins and caught nine passes for 77 yards.