Welker impresses Rams on first day
ST. LOUIS (AP) Jeff Fisher joked that once Wes Welker converts a few third downs, St. Louis Rams fans will start chanting his name instead of rookie Todd Gurley’s.
Gurley, who’s among the league leaders in rushing, said that would be just fine with him.
”If he can help, let’s go,” Gurley said after practice Tuesday. ”I’ll be chanting right there with them.”
The 34-year-old Welker practiced for the first time with St. Louis (4-4), a day after signing. The Rams had an opening at wide receiver after Stedman Bailey was suspended for four games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy and Welker was impressive at a workout at Rams Park.
”We talked yesterday about `Gosh, if we can get a package together and get you on the field, we will,”’ Fisher said. ”If not, we’ll wait a week.”
Welker is doing all he can to get on the field right away and could make his season debut Sunday against the Bears.
The Rams can really use some help on third down, and that’s been Welker’s specialty in his prime. They’re 4 for 37 the last three games and they’re the worst in the NFL overall with a conversion rate of just 23.8 percent.
”I don’t see myself as being the solution,” Welker said. ”I’m just here trying to learn the offense and trying to contribute any way I can.”
Welker made a favorable first impression with his new teammates.
”He’s got great talent and from the looks of things he still looks like he can move, so that’s a good thing,” defensive back Lamarcus Joyner said. ”He’s the same old Wes Welker you see on ESPN every Sunday from the past.”
Welker has been dogged by concussions in recent seasons but both player and team said that was not a concern. Welker said he hadn’t been in a hurry to sign with a team at the start of the year because three months ago his wife had twins, a boy and a girl.
He said there had been some opportunities, but didn’t think he wasn’t signed because of his concussion history. His last one was in the 2014 preseason on a hit by Houston’s D.J. Swearinger before being suspended for two games for violating the league’s performance enhancing drugs policy, and had two concussions just three weeks apart in 2013.
Welker missed the last three games of the ’13 regular season but returned for the playoffs.
”Obviously, I’m not going to try to look for contact, but I’m not thinking about it, either,” Welker said. ”You start second-guessing yourself and that’s when you get in trouble.”
Now, he said, a routine has been established and it’s time to return.
”I just love playing, I love playing ball,” Welker said. ”I feel like I can still play at a really high level. I kind of went into this offseason not knowing what I was going to do and started training and really saw I still had it.”
Welker is the oldest player on the team, four years older than defensive ends William Hayes and Chris Long. He feels like there’s plenty left.
Joyner said he hadn’t yet contacted Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater but intended to. Bridgewater sustained a concussion on Joyner’s low hit in the Vikings’ overtime victory on Sunday but coach Mike Zimmer said Monday he believed Bridgewater would be ”good to go” this week against Oakland.
Joyner said he hadn’t been contacted by the league regarding a fine, but added ”Not yet, but I’m pretty sure it’s coming.” He expressed regret about the hit after the game.
”This past weekend, it was terrible for me,” Joyner said. ”That incident wasn’t intentional. I’ve poured my heart out and gave my sorrows and my apologies so it’s time to move forward.”
AP NFL website: http://www.pro32.ap.org and AP NFL Twitter account: http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL