ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Though defensive end
After undergoing surgery, Hunter stayed around the team, going through his rehabilitation with the help of the Broncos training staff.
"I've been here the whole time," Hunter said. "I've been here rehabbing with the team since I got hurt on Aug. 15. I had my surgery and then I've been here ever since. It has went real well."
Hunter's injury ended what looked like it would be a promising season before it started, as the veteran defensive end was taking snaps with the first-team defensive line before getting hurt. As disappointed as he was initially, Hunter said all the support he has received quickly helped raise his spirits.
"They've been real encouraging," Hunter said. "I was kind of down when I first got hurt, but everybody's been trying to keep me encouraged, being real supportive. I'm just trying to continue to stay focused. These guys have been doing great. I'm real happy with the guys and how they're out there playing. I've just been supporting them all year as well as they have been supporting me. It's been a great year."
One thing keeping Hunter positive has been the play of his teammates, who finished the regular season with 11 consecutive wins to secure the AFC's No. 1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
"It's so much fun, to see these guys, how they work," Hunter said. "All the energy, how happy the guys are, the coaches are energetic. When we're winning, it makes everybody happy around here. I'm happy for the guys and I'm excited to be a part of it."
But while Hunter has been happy to see the team play at a high level without him, he doesn't deny that he wishes he was in the thick of things.
"As a warrior, a football player, you definitely want to be part of it," Hunter said. "But that's life, you just have to move forward. I'm happy for everybody else. I know my time will come where I can get back out there and play."
Hunter said he has been pleased with the progress he has made throughout the season. He recently began easing back into his weight-room routine, the latest step in a rehab process that he said has gone 'real well.' Though the 2013 campaign remains well in the distance for most players, it's already squarely within Hunter's sights.
"With how everything's going, I feel great," Hunter said. "It's a slow process, but I'm keeping my nose to the grind and continuing to do what they tell me to do. I'll be ready to go for the 2013 season."