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Gray Matter Mailbag: O-Line, Wolfe & Trades

Posted Oct 25, 2013

This week's mailbag features fan questions on Derek Wolfe's production, the health of the offensive line and the trade deadline.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Plenty to get to this week, from the offensive line and its health to Derek Wolfe's performance to the trade deadline.

Thanks as always for all your questions. You can keep them coming any time throughout the week via Twitter -- just send them to @GrayCaldwell and use the hashtag #GrayMatter.

Let's get to it.

Head Coach John Fox said that late in last Sunday's loss to the Colts, the Broncos got into a "chuck-and-duck kind of game," meaning the team had to become a one-dimensional passing attack in order to come back from a 19-point deficit. That puts the offensive line in a tough position when pass-rushers can just tee off on the quarterback. As far as any changes for this week, we'll see how Orlando Franklin's health progresses this week (see the next question). Meanwhile, Offensive Coordinator Adam Gase said there are things he can do as a play-caller to help out the pass protection just in terms of personnel groupings, but didn't get into too many specifics for competitive reasons.

It was good to see him back on the field for Thursday's practice after not participating on Wednesday or in any of last week's sessions. It's tough to really evaluate how he's looking from a short period at the start of practice, but he was limited on Thursday and Friday and is listed as questionable for the game. So as far as a timetable, by definition it's 50-50 that he could suit up as soon as this Sunday.

"Obviously if he’s ready, (the offensive line) will look like it did in our first six games and not our last game,” Fox said of the lineup.

That preseason injury was obviously a scary moment. But I don't think it's affecting him, and neither does Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio, who said Thursday that he feels like the defensive lineman is "all the way back from that."

As far as his production on the field, he has just one sack this year. But he's making an impact in other areas on defense. According to ProFootballFocus.com, Wolfe leads the team with 19 quarterback hurries and is second with three quarterback hits -- trailing only Malik Jackson in that statistic.

“It’s not always about one guy getting the numbers," Del Rio said. "But Derek works hard, he very conscientious—one of the guys that we count on to play a big role for us each and every Sunday. Just keep grinding, the numbers will come. I think he’s approaching it the right way. Stay strong throughout the season and the numbers tend to come your way.”

This was a popular question this week, as the trade deadline is coming up this Tuesday at 2 p.m. MT. But traditionally not much happens at the trade deadline in the NFL. As Fox and Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway always say, the team is constantly looking for ways to improve, so in other words, anything is possible. But I wouldn't hold my breath. There aren't any rumors circulating that I've heard -- some of the names that are out there seem to come from stories that are just discussing which players could be fits on other teams. But speaking of trades, keep an eye out for an in-depth story I've been working on for a while now looking back how the trade that sent Champ Bailey to Washington for Clinton Portis and a second-round pick came to be. It's coming up on 10 years since the transaction, and I was able to talk with Bailey, Portis, Mike Shanahan, Jack Reale -- Bailey's agent -- Fox, Elway and then-Broncos General Manager Ted Sundquist for their points of view. I'm excited to post it this afternoon, so be on the lookout for that.

It's possible. I wouldn't say there are any outright signs just from the portion of practice that the media -- and the DenverBroncos.com staff -- is allowed to watch. But Gase said he thinks Anderson is ready to play on Sundays, and he hasn't been on the injury report since Week 5. It's just a matter of numbers when Head Coach John Fox determines who is active versus inactive on game day.

When I saw this question for the mailbag, I asked Fox for his thoughts on the running back.

"I like him," he said. "He hasn’t had a lot of reps since preseason but we’ve seen him a lot in practice and like the growth and development he’s had up to date.”

Good question -- this reaction comes from, I assume, last week's game story, when I wrote that the Broncos turned the ball over three times against the Colts. Trindon Holliday's special-teams fumble was recovered by the Colts -- that's one. Ronnie Hillman's fumble near the goal line was recovered by the Colts, as well -- that's two. Peyton Manning's interception makes three, but when the ball came out on a sack-fumble by Robert Mathis that resulted in a safety, the opposing team technically didn't recover it, so it didn't officially count as a turnover. It was essentially the same result as if Manning was sacked in the end zone.

"They were being kind to us calling that we had three," Fox said on Monday. "I count the sack-fumble-safety as a turnover because you give them points as well as another possession."

"Statistically, it didn't go in that way."