Wes Welker suspended 4 games

Denver Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker

Denver Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker has been suspended four games for use of amphetamines, sources told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

Welker was excused from practice Aug. 20-21 to attend his appeal hearing, sources told ESPN Senior NFL Analyst Chris Mortensen.

Welker returned to the practice field Monday as he continues through the NFL's concussion protocol. Welker suffered his third concussion since Nov. 17 during the preseason against the Texans.

The wide receiver had not been cleared for contact and was still a question mark for Sunday night's regular-season opener against the Indianapolis Colts. Monday's appearance on the practice field was his first since he suffered a concussion Aug. 23.

Welker's suspension is a huge blow to the Broncos' receiving game. Last season only four wide receivers caught passes for Denver and nearly 60 percent of those receptions will not be on the field in Week 1, as Eric Decker is now with the Jets and Welker is suspended, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

The Broncos signed free agent receiver Emmanuel Sanders during the offseason and drafted rookie receiver Cody Latimer.

Over the last two seasons, only five players in the NFL averaged more targets per game than Welker. Welker ranks tied for eighth in the league in total targets over that span, despite missing three games, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

The Broncos have a tough start to the season, as they open up with four straight games against teams that won 10-or-more games last season.

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