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Fifteen players to watch at Broncos training camp - 9. Derek Wolfe

Posted Jul 18, 2017

Wolfe was dominant at times during OTAs, but it's how he develops as a leader which could determine his progress in 2017.

Derek Wolfe knows he is at the point in his career where he has to be more than just a disruptive, havoc-wreaking defensive end.

Of course, if he stays healthy this season, he could be in position for his best year in that regard. His performance during OTAs was dominant; he consistently breached the pocket and knocked down passes at the line of scrimmage on an almost-daily basis.

But the reason why you should focus your binoculars on Wolfe doesn't revolve around what he does after the ball is snapped. It's what he does in the huddle and on the sideline.

The defense -- and the team at large -- needs leadership to emerge in the wake of the retirements of Peyton Manning and DeMarcus Ware during the last 16 months. In his sixth season and the second year of a four-year contract that he signed in January 2016, Wolfe knows it's time for him to help fill that role.

“I’ve been around enough great players that I’ve seen how not to do it and how to do it," Wolfe said in May.

Last year, Wolfe felt he did more of the former than the latter.

“I didn’t speak up enough," he said. "When I saw things, I didn’t speak up and I didn’t say things when I should have. I’m not letting that [stuff] slide this year.”

He's already shown signs of that on the practice field -- with some assistance from newcomer Domata Peko.

“Derek is the type of guy that will let you know if you’re doing some stuff wrong and get after you that type of way," Peko said during OTAs. "But also, he’s one of the hardest workers out here. He’s here every day, giving his all, giving his best."

Together, Wolfe and Peko should be able to provide the leadership the defensive line needs.

“With the two of us being able to team up on it, if I don’t catch it, he usually [does]," Wolfe said.

Derek Wolfe