Wes Welker says he's 'ready to go'

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Denver Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker pronounced himself "ready to go" Thursday as the team worked through its coveted bye week before it opens up postseason play next week in the divisional round.

Broncos head coach John Fox said Monday Welker had been cleared to play in the postseason, but Thursday was the first time Welker had addressed his return from a concussion, suffered just before halftime of the Broncos' Dec. 8 win over the Tennessee Titans. Welker was held out of the Broncos' last three games of the regular season while he recovered.

"Of course, you're always concerned any time you get a concussion or anything like that," Welker said following Thursday's practice. "But really I feel good. I think we've taken a lot more action than what we would have in the past with this whole ordeal. I feel like we've taken enough time, it will be five weeks from the day when I had any contact at all. I feel good, I feel fine, I feel ready to go."

Following this weekend's wild-card games, the Broncos will face the lowest remaining seed in the AFC playoff field on Jan. 12 in Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Welker practiced last week on a limited basis and made the trip with the team to Oakland, but did not play in the regular-season finale.

Asked Thursday when he started to feel 100 percent again, Welker said: "It took a little bit of time, even when I felt like I was 100 percent, looking back on it you know you weren't 100 percent. It's always a tricky injury, just trying to manage it and everything else."

Welker's return means the Broncos will have their full allotment of playmakers on offense as they open the postseason. Despite missing the last three games Welker still finished the season with 73 catches for 778 yards and 10 touchdowns, but while the touchdown total was a career high, it was his fewest receptions in a season since 2006 when he finished with 67 catches with the Dolphins.

Following that '06 season Welker had at least 111 receptions in five of the next six seasons.

In addition to the concussion he suffered against the Titans, Welker also suffered a concussion in the Broncos' Nov. 17 win over the Kansas City Chiefs.

Before he could return Welker had to be declared symptom-free by both the Broncos' medical staff as well as a designated independent physician who has been approved by both the NFL and NFL Players Association.

Welker said he didn't think it would take very long to re-establish his timing with quarterback Peyton Manning.

"I think we've been around the league long enough, we know each other's thinking, we can get on the same page," Welker said.

"I'm sure he appreciates [the bye week] having missed a few games, I'm sure he would tell you he had liked being back out on the practice field and having some time to work," Manning said. "We're glad to have him back."

Welker's return means the Broncos will have a lineup on the field for their playoff game that includes five players with at least 60 receptions and five players with at least 10 touchdowns. It also gives the Broncos the ability to line up both Welker and tight end Julius Thomas in the slot, forcing defenses into some difficult decisions.