The Skinny: Denver Broncos WR Wes Welker suffered what is being called a “concussion” during Sunday’s win against the Kansas City Chiefs. Welker took a hit in the second half of Sunday’s game, appeared to go limp for a second, dropping the ball in the process when he hit the ground. He received some attention on the field and walked off with some assistance from the training staff. However, he then returned for 5 plays, but was taken out of the game for good when, according to coach Jack Del Rio, he began to have “symptoms”. Sunday, Welker and the Broncos head to New England to face his former team, the Patriots.
The Injury: So, what we do know for sure is that Welker has undergone baseline concussion testing and will be monitored throughout the week based on the ImPACT concussion protocol mandated by the NFL. Typically, Friday is the earliest a player can return to full practice participation so long as he remains symptom free throughout the week with progressive increase in practice intensity.
The bigger story is how the situation was handled by Broncos medical staff, as Welker obviously took a hit to the head during that play in the 4th quarter, which should have triggered a notification from upstairs that Welker needed to undergo a sideline assessment by an independent neurologist. However, none of this happened, which again brings light to the poor execution of the NFL’s concussion protocol.
There really was nothing Welker could have told the training staff that made it ok for him to return to the game. He took a blow to the head, went limp for a second, and had difficulty walking off under his own power. Those three things alone should have led the individual in the booth upstairs to signal for Welker to be screened. Clearly that didn’t happen. Just another black eye on the overall handling and treatment of players with head injuries by the NFL.
The Prognosis: All signs point to Welker being ok, at least that’s what initial reports have stated early in the week. We won’t know how he’s doing for sure until Friday, so hang tight until then. If he can return to the field this Friday for a full practice and not have any concussive symptoms for 24 hours afterwards, then he will play. But this story could remain uncertain until the weekend, so stay tuned.