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Training Camp Notes: The Welker Conundrum

  • Wes Welker told Broncos coach John Fox that he was "feeling good" Monday, two days after suffering a concussion in the team's preseason loss the Texans, his third concussion in roughly 10 months. Fox acknowledged concern but brushed off any talk of the injury forcing Welker into retirement, saying simply that the 33-year-old "will be out there when healthy." Before Welker can return to practice, however, he must be cleared by the team's medical staff and an independent doctor, per league protocol. With less than two weeks go until the regular-season opener against the Colts, Welker's status is decidedly cloudy, but if he does end up sitting out Week 1, it would open the door for Andre Caldwell or perhaps Cody Latimer to see looks out of the slot.
  • Vikings coach Mike Zimmer named Matt Cassel the starting quarterback for the team's Week 1 matchup against the Rams, saying Monday "at this stage and where we're at right now, that's the best thing to do." It was really just a formality, as Cassel started each of the team's first three preseason games and played nearly three full quarters Saturday against the Chiefs. While first-round pick Teddy Bridgewater has fared well in exhibition play, completing 26-of-40 passes with four touchdowns and no interceptions, the veteran Cassel has successfully led a first-team unit missing Adrian Peterson, completing 26-of-39 passes with two touchdowns and one pick. Bridgewater will have to bide his time for now but he did run a pro-style offense at Louisville and it wouldn't be a surprise if he started at least a handful of games as a rookie.
  • A sore throwing elbow kept Matt Schaub off the practice field Monday for a second straight day. The comparisons to Matt Flynn were inevitable – Flynn missed the Raiders' final preseason game last season with an elbow injury and in turn lost the starting job – but coach Dennis Allen said Schaub is still on track to be the starter Sept. 7 against the Jets. Schaub was even more adamant that the issue is not serious, stressing that he will "absolutely, one hundred percent" be under center come Week 1. Regardless, it's a rather ominous development for Raiders fans and anyone owning Raiders receivers in fantasy this year, as the zip on Schaub's throws seemed to be lacking even before the elbow soreness reportedly crept up. Derek Carr practiced with the first team both Sunday and Monday but it's clear the team has no intention of throwing him to the wolves right off the bat.
  • Tony Romo typically attends practice even on his off days but was not present Monday, after taking three sacks in the team's preseason game against the Dolphins on Saturday. Coach Jason Garrett helped ease concerns, saying that Romo appears to be recovering well from the hits, but it sounds like he will indeed be held out of the Cowboys' final preseason game Thursday. The team appears to just be playing it safe with Romo, with Monday's absence largely for maintenance purposes, but his workload has been limited throughout training camp and it seems he may not be quite at 100 percent following back surgery in December.
  • Redskins tight end Jordan Reed sat out practice Monday with a sprained thumb, but coach Jay Gruden said the 24-year-old should be ready for the club's regular-season opener. Apparently, Reed could have practiced, but the team opted to take precaution, citing concerns over Reed's ability to catch the ball as a reason to hold him out. Reed has caught just three passes for 27 yards this preseason, but he did see 59 targets as a rookie, a number which figures to grow, health permitting, in Gruden's up-tempo offense.
  • Sammy Watkins was a limited participant in practice last week after suffering a rib injury in the Bills' second exhibition game, but he was cleared to return to full participation Monday. Given that the injury kept him from the team's "dress rehearsal" game, Watkins will likely play at least a series or two in the team's final preseason contest Thursday, perhaps even a series or two with quarterback EJ Manuel. Coach Doug Marrone suggested some of the team's starters will play in the exhibition finale.