Does Peyton Manning deserve blame for Wes Welker's concussion?

Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker suffered his third concussion in 10 months Saturday night, courtesy of Texans safety D.J. Swearinger.

Swearinger, who ended Dustin Keller's career last preseason with a questionable low hit, felt the wrath of Peyton Manning moments after the play.

Manning was flagged for taunting, which is something we'd never thought we'd write. After the game, he didn't go into specifics about exactly what he said, but Swearinger distilled Manning's message down to two words.

That doesn't technically qualify as constructive criticism (or taunting, really), but here's the thing: Does Manning deserve some of the responsibility for leading Welker into Swearinger's flight path? It's a question's Tom Curran addressed Sunday night.

"Manning can be as pissed as he wants to be at Swearinger but he bears some of the burden for throwing over the middle to his 190-pound concussion-prone receiver with a converging mass of three Texans. In a preseason game. When Manning wasn’t under pressure. ...

"Manning is a genius pre-snap," Curran continued. "But post-snap, you have to wonder how he doesn’t see the potential for disaster unfolding on some of his throws. Or maybe he does and the fact he delivers the ball with less velocity than every other quarterback in the league is the problem. A quarterback who rips the ball to an open receiver gives him a chance to get out of harm’s way. Manning delivers some flutterballs."

And, some might argue, medicine balls. (To Manning's credit, he's nearly perfected the ugly pass, which he pointed out last October when he said, "I throw a lot of wobbly passes. I throw a lot of wobbly touchdowns too.") That includes Texans coach Bill O'Brien who defended Swearinger's hit.

"That was a tough play,” the first-year Texans coach said, via the Houston Chronicle. “D. J. did go in there with his shoulder, but the way Welk ended up trying to catch that ball … he went down (and) the angle changed at the last second (so Swearinger’s) shoulder hit Welker in the head. D.J. was not trying to do any harm. He was trying to make the tackle. ...

“I think the call was correct," O'Brien continued. "What you continually have to show the guys on tape what a proper tackle is. It’s not leading with the head. It’s hitting with your shoulder and hitting basically between the shoulders and the waist and not above the neck area. But last night’s play was a tough one to say, ‘You were really at fault there.’”

The bigger question is how Welker proceeds from here. Three concussions in less than a year immediately leads to conversations about whether he should retire.

Ultimately, that's a decision only Welker can make. And for now, it sounds like he'll be on the field when the Broncos meet the Colts in the season opener.

Did Wes Welker's oversized helmet absorb the blow from D.J. Swearinger? (USATSI)
Did Wes Welker's oversized helmet absorb the blow from D.J. Swearinger? (USATSI)
CBS Sports Writer

Ryan Wilson has been an NFL writer for CBS Sports since June 2011, and he's covered five Super Bowls in that time. Ryan previously worked at AOL's FanHouse from start to finish, and Football Outsiders... Full Bio

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