- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 3, 2014

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) - Wes Welker angrily declared he was “as shocked as everyone” when the NFL banned him for the first month of the season for violating the league’s drug-abuse policy.

Peyton Manning wasn’t shocked at all.

Neither was John Elway.

John Fox, maybe just a little.

“Uh, I guess I wasn’t shocked,” Manning said Wednesday during a news conference in which he was asked a half dozen questions about Welker’s suspension and just once about playing his former team, the Indianapolis Colts, in Denver’s opener Sunday night.

“I guess I had an idea that it might be happening,” Manning said. “Somewhat we were prepared for it.”

Eleven miles up the road, Elway, the Broncos general manager, was on his way to the pro-am at the BMW Championship at Cherry Hills when he was asked about Welker’s suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs.

“There’s going to be more bumps in the road as we go,” Elway said. “There’s always bumps. It’s a matter of how you handle those bumps, and we’ll handle this one. The next guy in line will step and we’ll be ready to go against the Colts.”

Asked if he were shocked it was Welker, Elway simply repeated, “We’ll be ready to go against the Colts.”

Fox had this to say about the discipline handed down to the 11th-year pro who’s the best slot receiver of this generation: “If you do this long enough, you’re surprised but not totally. We were disappointed, but we’ll move on.”

“I think it’s kind of hard to be surprised in this business,” tight end Julius Thomas said. “Everybody goes through things in life, and we always say we’re family here. You’re not surprised when your family falls on tough times - you’re just there for them and you give them as much support as you can.”

The Broncos will be without Manning’s third-down security blanket for the brutal stretch against Indy, Kansas City, Seattle and Arizona, a foursome that averaged 11.25 wins last year.

The Broncos just haven’t been able to stay out of the commissioner’s cross-hairs of late.

Since 2012, six prominent employees have been suspended by the NFL for violations of the league’s drug policies, and Manning noted that in all three of his seasons in Denver, the Broncos began the season with a star serving a suspension.

“I don’t think that’s something the Broncos want to brag about,” Manning said. “But it’s the reality.”

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