“He's working through the protocol,” Broncos interim head coach Jack Del Rio said. “They're increasing activity as he clears hurdles and all that, and when they give me the green light, we'll get him back out there.
His status for Sunday’s game against the Patriots is still up in the air, but no one on either side doubts how much Welker wants to take the field against the team that let him walk in free agency.
Not Del Rio, who knows how much competitiveness fuels Welker.
“He's a competitive guy, so I'm sure he's looking forward to playing with us and his former teammates," Del Rio said.
Not Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, knowing that in six seasons with the Patriots, Welker only missed three games.
“He’s a tough guy so he’s played through everything,” Brady said. “This is a big game for both teams so you have to expect their best players and I’m sure all those guys will be ready to go.”
And not Petyon Manning, who’s hooked up with Welker 61 times this season for 648 yards and nine touchdowns through 10 games this season.
“I think Wes wants to be out there every single week,” Manning said. “I can't speak for him in this particular week and returning to play his old team, but I think Wes wants to be out there for the fourth preseason game if the team would let him play.
“That's just kind of how he's played his career out, kind of a guy that's going to be in there, that doesn't take anything for granted. I think that's a consistent theme with Welker.”
Welker signed a two-year, $12 million deal with the Broncos in the offseason after receiving what Welker’s agents described as a “take it or leave it offer” from the Patriots.
Looking to bounce back after a frustrating loss to the Carolina Panthers on Monday night, Patriots coach Bill Belichick did not want to rehash the events.
“I think we’ve covered the subject pretty throughly,” Belichick said.
• Manning also sat out Wednesday's practice to rest the right ankle he sprained in October and re-aggravated in Week 10 against the Chargers.
Del Rio has said he intends to give Manning a few days off, but didn't want to goes so far as to say Wednesday off days would become a regular routine.
"I'm not trying to characterize it in a way where he always will or won't," Del Rio said. "That's how we approached it today and it's kind of day by day. We do what we think is best with the guys and getting them prepared for the game."
Manning did participate in the walkthrough.
Del Rio joked, "100 percent in the walkthrough."
• The Broncos secondary took a blow with the loss of free safety Rahim Moore, who was played on the injured reserve with a designation to return after undergoing surgery on Monday to repair lateral compartment syndrome in his left leg.
In 10 games, Moore picked off two passes and recorded 38 tackles, but perhaps more important was his constant presence on the field. He took 661 total snaps this season, according to Footballoutsiders.com, the Broncos' second-highest total.
"It's unfortunate for Rahim," Del Rio said. "Really a great young man. Was having a nice year for us, cared so much. It's really football that he loves."
Veteran safety Mike Adams will fill Moore's role, while journeyman defensive back Michael Huff was signed to fill the hole on the roster.
"It is good that we have a capable veteran like Mike [Adams] to step in," Del Rio said. "A guy that played a lot last year for us."
• Coming off back to back 100-yard performances, Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas expects to be as much of a target for Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib as he will be for Manning.
What he isn't counting on is getting into the kind of dust-up that Talib and Panthers wideout Steve Smith got into on Monday night.
His answer for any altercation, he said, will be the silent treatment. The method has worked against some other brash corners, he said, including Redskins corner D'Angelo Hall.
"I feel like some guys go into that, but I just got out there and I don't say nothing to nobody," Thomas said. "I just play ball. I feel like if you don't say nothing to them, it might mess his game up. You never know. But I just go out there there and try not to say nothing to him."