Wes Welker leaves after helmet hit

Wes Welker, D.J. Swearinger, Jeff Tarpinian

DENVER -- Denver Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker, who missed three games last season after suffering two concussions, left Saturday night's preseason game against the Houston Texans after taking a hit to the helmet from Texans safety D.J. Swearinger.

Welker, who caught 73 passes for 10 touchdowns and 778 yards in 2013, got up and walked next to a member of the Broncos training staff, off the field and straight into the locker room. The team was evaluating him for a concussion.

The play came in the waning seconds of the opening half. The Broncos, after a Texans punt, took over on their own 36-yard line with 32 seconds remaining before halftime.

Welker caught an 11-yard pass from quarterback Peyton Manning to move the ball to the 47-yard line. On a first-and-10 from the Broncos' 47-yard line, Manning hit Welker again in the middle of the field, and, as Welker lunged forward, Swearinger hit Welker in the head.

Replays appeared to show that, as Welker's head dropped as he began to slide, Swearinger hit him with a combination of forearm and shoulder. Welker got up on his own but immediately waved to the Broncos' trainers to come on to the field.

Swearinger was assessed a personal foul for a blow to the head on the play.

On the next play, Manning hit Emmanuel Sanders for a 29-yard touchdown, and Manning then ran all the way into the end zone to confront Swearinger. Manning was flagged for taunting.

Welker's injury is a concern, given his history. He suffered two concussions last season and missed the Broncos' final three games of the regular season.

He returned to the lineup for the Broncos' three playoff games, wearing a helmet with extra padding. Welker has continued to wear the helmet this season as well.

At minimum, Welker figures to miss at least some practice because he will now be under the guidelines of the league's concussion protocol. Welker was not scheduled to play in Thursday's preseason finale in Dallas against the Dallas Cowboys, but his availability for the Sept. 7 season opener will be dependent on whether or not he is cleared by both the Broncos medical staff and an independent doctor who has been approved by the NFL and the NFLPA.

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