ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – Nearly six months after signing with Denver, the time has finally come for wide receiver Wes Welker to play his first regular-season game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High as a Bronco.
"I've been looking forward to this one for a while," Welker said Tuesday. "And being in the kickoff classic – I'm definitely excited about it."
In his 10-year career, Welker has played three games in Denver. Most recently, he caught four passes for 41 yards in 2011 with the Patriots. So he knows how loud things can be at Sports Authority Field, but Thursday night, he'll be on the receiving end of those cheers.
"I think the practice that we had at the stadium just went to show me how loud that stadium can be," he said. "Playing here in the past, I knew how tough it was to play at this stadium. I expect nothing different Thursday night."
Welker joins what is already a talented receiving corps with Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker in addition to a strong group of tight ends. But all summer long Welker has said that sharing the ball won't be an issue – the only goal is "just winning ball games."
He has spent a lot of time working with Peyton Manning this offseason to ease their in-game communication and the help each other have a better feel the other's style of play.
Despite missing a little bit of time in the preseason with an ankle injury, Welker is pleased with progress they have made.
"I think there's always work to be done but I'm pretty happy with where we're at and the game plan going into it," he said. "I think we're all pretty confident with where we're at. Now we just have to go out there and execute it on the field."
Welker, known as shifty slot receiver and return specialist, comes in filling a position that was filled a year ago by Brandon Stokley, who is now a Baltimore Raven. Welker said that he was a big fan of Stokley and that it was a "tough place to try and follow in his footsteps."
While he won't be matched up against Stokley, he will be lined up against the Ravens secondary – a unit that will be the first to try to control the multi-faceted attack that is the Broncos passing game.
"That remains to be seen," Welker said when asked if any team had the cornerbacks to match up with the Broncos. "We have to go out there and execute the way we need to execute and see what we can do.
"I think there's a test out there for us every week that we step on the field and this first one is Thursday night."