ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The placement of cornerback Chris Harris Jr. on injured reserve was expected immediately after word broke that he had torn his anterior cruciate ligament against San Diego on Sunday.
But the move of defensive lineman Derek Wolfe off the 53-man roster and onto injured reserve was much longer in the making, stemming back to the seizure-like incident he suffered on Nov. 29, just before the Broncos left for their Week 13 game at Kansas City.
For weeks afterward, Broncos Head Coach John Fox spoke about Wolfe's situation, often emphasizing that doctors were still learning about his condition and what caused it. At one point, Fox compared the issue to that of Tracy Porter, who suffered seizure-like symptoms in 2012 and battled them on and off throughout the season, only playing in one game after Week 5 as a result.
Wolfe made it back to the practice field, but only for two days. He had not practiced since Dec. 27, reducing hopes that he could return at any point during the Broncos' playoff run.
Their spots will be filled by cornerback Marquice Cole and practice-squad offensive tackle Vinston Painter. Of the two, the 30-year-old Cole appears to be of more immediate importance. He can contribute on special teams and provide depth at cornerback -- and, perhaps some insight into his former team, since he was released by the Patriots on Dec. 26.
With Cole aboard, each team now has one player that was in the other's training camp this summer. The Patriots have former Broncos defensive tackle Sealver Siliga, who was traded to Seattle for John Moffitt, and then later released by the Seahawks.
Painter's promotion isn't likely to affect the game-day roster much; the Broncos have activated three tackles a game throughout the season, and Chris Clark, Orlando Franklin and Winston Justice all remain healthy.
But it is a reward for a season of diligent practice-squad work, and a reminder that the Broncos have high long-term hopes for Painter to develop into a contributor. With only one season of college starting experience at offensive tackle, the former defensive lineman was widely considered a project with athleticism that showed during a strong Combine workout last February. His promotion is an indication that his development is on schedule.