Wes Welker's being suspended is reality, but the shock is still settling in.
USA Today is reporting that the Denver Broncos are preparing to move on from the distressing news about Welker's suspension. Welker was suspended for the first four games of the 2014 NFL season for testing positive for amphetamines. He will be able to return to the team on October 6. Instead, he was allowed into Broncos headquarters long enough to stand in front of his teammates and apologize for the suspension. The Broncos took the practice field, and Welker left the facility. Welker is still vehemently denying he knowingly took amphetamines.
Current teammates are responding to the suspension. "Wes just wanted us to know how important this team is to him, how much we mean to him, and what he's going to do when he gets back," tight end Julius Thomas said. "There is nothing he can do to change where he is at right now, but we know that when he comes back, he'll be a man on a mission and we're looking forward to embracing him when that day comes."
"Sometimes, these things are blessings in disguise. I'm sure this extra (five) weeks will give him plenty of time to heal," head coach John Fox said.
"Losing Wes is a self-inflicted wound. It's different than an injury, but I still put it in the adversity category," Peyton Manning said. "You find out a little bit about your team, and can you handle it? It's easy when everything is going smooth and you don't have any kind of adversity. Hopefully last year will have prepared us for these types of situations," Manning said. "The third year running we've had a starting player suspended. That's not something the Broncos want to brag about, but it's the reality. We have been able to win games despite that. Says something about the way we've handled and persevered through some circumstances we would rather not have been there. There's no question it's a test, and we'll see how we handle this test."
Welker's former quarterback, New England Patriot Tom Brady, made a brief statement concerning the situation. "I don't have a lot of thoughts or comments on that," Brady said. "That's Wes' situation, and their team. Obviously, I've got plenty to worry about with this week and this team. As a friend, you always hope the best. But, this is not friend time. It's opponent time. My focus is on the Dolphins."
One thing that concerns the Broncos is the timing of the suspension announcement. NFL.com is reporting that Welker was supposed to return to the Broncos after completing the NFL's concussion recovery program, missing the last two preseason games and practices after receiving his third concussion in ten months. He was able to return to practice on Monday, and the Broncos were hoping he would still be cleared to start in Sunday's game against the Indianapolis Colts. The suspension came down Tuesday, but the appeals hearing was two weeks before that. The original failed drug test happened in May.
This is nothing new to the Broncos, who have been losing players to suspensions and injuries for the past 12 months. They have to overcome adversity, once again.