Denver Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker left the team's game against the New England Patriots on Sunday with a back injury and did not return.
The injury occurred midway through the third quarter. Welker was hit hard in the back by a Patriots defender while attempting to catch a deep pass from Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, which was then intercepted.
Welker exited the game and was later ruled out by the team. He had three receptions for 31 yards before leaving.
The injury adds to a somewhat frustrating season for Welker. Following two concussions sustained late last season, Welker was concussed in a preseason game and likely would've missed at least one regular season game due to the injury.
Welker was later forced out of action anyway for a violation of the NFL's substance abuse policy, receiving a four-game suspension. The suspension was later lifted after the NFL and NFLPA adopted a new drug agreement.
In five games before Sunday, Welker recorded just 19 receptions for 181 yards and one touchdown. Last season, the five-time Pro Bowler recorded his lowest number of receptions (73) since 2006 but had a career-high 10 touchdowns.
The Broncos were blown out by the Patriots 43-21 on Sunday, lowering their record to 6-2. New England improved to 7-2.
- Ben Estes