Derek Wolfe has come back to the Denver Broncos, after serving his time for a drugstore mix-up with a ferocity that mirrors the difficulty Wolfe suffered in watching his teammates play without him. Although he spent time with his teammates when they were ‘chillin’, he was forbidden to set foot in Dove Valley, to train or to attend the film room.
He worked hard to maintain the ‘football condition’ that he’d developed in training camp. It didn’t take long to figure out that he was ready to come back and make a difference.
Week 5 against the divisional rival Oakland Raiders was Wolfe’s first chance to get back on the field. OTAs and training camp had drilled his playbook into him, so he was prepared for his first opportunity. On just play No. 4 from scrimmage, Wolfe was in the 6-technique, with his helmet just outside the right tackle (#77, Austin Howard).
RB Latavius Murray (#28) changes sides from the right of quarterback Derek Carr (#4) to his left. At the snap, Wolfe was bottled up in a double team of the right guard (#76, J'Marcus Webb) and Howard.
Wolfe’s tenacity plays dividends here. Howard leaves the combo/tandem block a whisker early. He’s supposed to stay until the guard, Webb, has Wolfe under control. Howard’s in a hurry to block out the linebacker, though, so he leaves Webb just as Wolfe blasts across and gets hold of Murray. Webb even grabbed some jersey in his attempt to slow Webb down. It wasn’t going to happen.
The end was inevitable and quick.
And that’s Wolfe. He’s been splitting double teams and starting to rack up sacks. He’s continuing to be a howling wall against the running game.
We all remember when Derek was felled by injury and illness. It was a bitter blow to the team, but as Hemingway noted,
“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.”
Wolfe is such a person. It’s one definition of character. He started back with 5 tackles in his first game. He’s gotten to even higher levels in the time between returning and Week 12.
See Part II for that.
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