Broncos' Derek Wolfe details arduous recovery from surgery, why he doesn't regret his 2016 extension (Nicki Jhabvala, The Athletic)
But whether the injuries were sustained in 2013 or last year, never did they prompt Wolfe to consider walking away from the game. Sure, there was the worry that maybe his neck wouldn't heal fully, that maybe he'd have to live in some pain, that maybe he wouldn't be the same force on the line that he was before.
"A lot of this stuff is mental," Wolfe said. "If you really think it's going to fix you, it's going to fix you."
Wolfe has called the procedure on his neck "life-changing," and his initial fear has since been quashed. He said he's back to 100 percent, and he has the numbers to back it. His 27 total tackles through nine games put on pace for a career-high this year. In a loss to the Jets earlier this year, he recorded his first career interception and he already has a career-high five pass-breakups.
DeMarcus Walker hopes on-field "statement" equals more playing time (Ryan O'Halloran, Denver Post)
Broncos defensive lineman DeMarcus Walker had to wait until Week 7 to play and he hopes his production in only 21 snaps (four tackles, one sack and one fumble recovery) warrants more opportunities starting Sunday at the Los Angeles Chargers.
"I feel like I made enough impact plays to make a statement to upstairs," said Walker, referring to the coaching staff.
Walker met twice with coach Vance Joseph earlier this season to discuss his status. The Broncos dressed only five defensive linemen in the first six games, making Walker, as the sixth lineman, a spectator.
"I went to Vance's office and talked to him and said, 'What's up? I'll do special teams. I'll do whatever to dress and help this team win,'" Walker said.
Broncos notes: Several key players returning from injuries (Mike Klis, 9 News)
This year, the Broncos were not playing winning football going into their bye week, so perhaps they can play better in these final seven games.
"I just know all good teams – just from going on my third year in the league now – good teams know how to deal with good or bad,'' said safety Justin Simmons. "Sometimes the bye comes at a good time, sometimes it comes at a bad time— it's up to us to make sure it comes at a good time.''
The team's mindset coming off their bye week?
"All positive. Seven games left, our mindset is one game at a time and then after the seven games, see where we're at,'' Simmons said. "We've got three more division games to pick it back up. We've got games against Pittsburgh and Cleveland at home and then a game at Cincinnati, so we've got a lot of big-time games.
"But we can't be thinking big picture. We've got to think one game at a time and this week is probably one of the biggest ones, Chargers in L.A.''
Broncos hit bye-week reset button aiming for second-half surge (Kyle Fredrickson, Denver Post)
"We've got seven weeks to go and you can't win all seven in one week," coach Vance Joseph said. "So, my message to the team is 'small focus.' Focus each day on meetings and practice."
The Broncos are optimistic that a litany of injured players — running back Royce Freeman (ankle), wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton (knee), cornerback Bradley Roby (knee) and safety Darian Stewart (neck) — will return Sunday in Los Angeles.
"It really helps when you're going through injuries to rest up," nose tackle Domata Peko said. "And mentally, just getting some rest (is good), being able to watch some games on Sunday and just reset trying to get one (win). It starts this week. The Chargers are a roll right now."
Cravens said he watched plenty film of the loss to the Texans, "a game we should have won, but this bye week did us some justice. We'll be able to compete against the Chargers this weekend."
Broncos hope to make better first impression after bye (Jeff Legwold, ESPN)
"I think getting off to a better start and playing with a lead for this football team is key and finding six more points a game," Broncos coach Vance Joseph said. "It's really obvious when you watch our tape why we haven't scored six more points a game."
The Broncos' starting point for all of that is essentially the first impression they've made each week. They have scored only eight first-quarter touchdowns in their nine games combined, and just six of those have been by the offense -- Denver's defense scored twice in the first quarter of the victory over the Arizona Cardinals.
In fact, in the four games since the team's Oct. 7 loss to the New York Jets, the Broncos' offense has put together two combined first-quarter touchdown drives. In short, the team's script of plays isn't working, and it has forced Denver to consistently play from behind.
"I think the mindset is where you start," Broncos quarterback Case Keenum said. "Making sure that we go into games wanting to control it from the start. Try to hit the ground running. Run our best plays that we love right off the bat."