ENGLEWOOD, Colo.—Last week, news broke that Denver Broncos starting defensive end Derek Wolfe would be suspended for the first four games of the season for the use of performance enhancing drugs. In a statement, he said that the use of the banned substance was inadvertent.
Whether it was on accident or not, the punishment is the same. The Broncos will be without one of their cornerstone players to kick off the season. Wolfe’s counterpart, Malik Jackson, strained a calf on day one of training camp. Jackson will be day to day.
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Head coach Gary Kubiak recently said that the plan is for Wolfe to practice throughout training camp like he’s going to be the starter Week 1. But the team has two veterans in Antonio Smith and Vance Walker who will likely receive more first-team reps than was originally planned.
After walk throughs yesterday, Wolfe took some time to talk about how he found out he failed the test, what led to it and how he’ll approach training camp, knowing that he’ll be suspended for the first month.
“It was just a phone call, really,” Wolfe said. “I really don't have any words for it other than I'm disappointed in myself. I let the fans down, I let my teammates down, my coaches and the whole organization. At the end of the day, I'm going to sit out four games and I'm going to come back strong. Like I said, I'm going to be pissed off and I'm going to be hungry.”
A pissed off and hungry Wolfe could be a terrible thing to behold. When asked about what events led to him failing a PED drug test, he didn’t want to go into too many details.
“We're not going to talk about that right now,” he said. “It was personal issues I was dealing with, and I dealt with it in a manner that I shouldn’t have. I'm just going to move past it. I just want to talk about football.”
As for his teammates, they seem to have closed ranks behind him. Wolfe is known for his quiet leadership in the locker room and his relentless work ethic. He’s a guy who leads with actions, more than words. Wolfe appreciates his teammates’ faith. How have his fellow players responded?
“Very supportive,” Wolfe said.
Wolfe and his defensive cohorts still have a lot of work to do in implementing Wade Phillips’ new 3-4 scheme. Knowing that he’ll be absent for the first four weeks of the season, will that change his approach in training camp?
“That's in the back of my head, but I'm not even thinking about that suspension right now,” he said. “I'm thinking about what we can do to get better as a team in this moment and at this time. One play at a time, that's just how I'm taking it.”
Those first four weeks of the season are going to be maddeningly long for Derek Wolfe. However, he vows that he’s going to keep his nose to the grindstone and come back better than ever.
“I'm going to go train my ass off, that's what I'm going to do,” Wolfe said. “I'm going to train every day and embrace the day. I'll come back in even better shape than I left camp.”
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