ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --Wes Welker hasn't played in a football game since December 8.
Now, after more than a month away from the field, the wide receiver is two days away from making his return against the San Diego Chargers in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.
"I'd say it's fair to say he's pretty excited," Head Coach John Fox said.
And the rest of the offense is just as excited.
Offensive Coordinator Adam Gase said that the energy Welker has brought to the practice field has motivated the rest of his teammates as they see how hungry the 10th-year veteran is for a postseason win.
More than that, Welker's presence on the field gives defenses yet another weapon to account for.
"It puts two guys in the slot that defenses have to find a way to decide how they are going to defend us," said tight end Julius Thomas, who noted that he and Welker typically line up on opposite sides of the field. "A lot of times, earlier throughout the season, some teams would double me or some teams would double Wes. When you have two people that can make plays in that middle of the field, it makes it a lot harder on the defense from that standpoint."
When the Chargers defeated the Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Week 15, Welker wasn't on the field.
"The main thing is they played us a certain way because we didn't have him, I think," wide receiver Demaryius Thomas said. "They didn't account for Wes last game because he didn't play but they will this game. It's good for us because you don't know what they're going to throw at us, but it's another weapon on the field to help us out."
In his time off, Welker said he didn't have any trouble staying sharp as he cleared through various phases of the concussion protocol.
"Getting with the strength coaches and doing ball drills and doing different things like that – just making sure I'm keeping my strength and stamina and being ready to go," Welker said.
When he got back on the practice field, he said it didn't take him very long to find his timing with quarterback Peyton Manning again.
"When you've played as long as I have it comes back pretty quick," Welker said. "I really wasn't too worried about that."
The month off could have a silver lining, as Welker has fresh legs for the playoff push.
"Certainly, as an offense, we're glad to have him back," Manning said.