ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Garett Bolles had never before been hurt.
Not seriously, anyway.
Not at the high-school, collegiate or professional level. Not in lacrosse or football.
So when a Cowboys defensive lineman's leg whipped into the back of Bolles left foot, he was understandably concerned.
An emotional few minutes followed Sunday afternoon, as Bolles' teammates came over to him on a cart before he was driven off the field.
Even in the immediate minutes after he'd been carted off, Bolles couldn't accept that he wouldn't be able to re-enter the game.
"I was just watching the TVs, thinking I could just jump through the TV and go back out there and play," Bolles said. "That's how I am. I love this game."
At the time, Bolles feared the worst.
"I thought this game was going to end sooner than I thought for the season," Bolles said Thursday.
An MRI on Monday revealed a bone bruise, and Head Coach Vance Joseph said Bolles would be listed as week to week.
That timeline seemed shorter Thursday when Bolles practiced on a limited basis, and he said he was beyond grateful to return.
"I knew that I was going to be able to come back to it," Bolles said. "I didn't know how fast I was going to go, how fast my leg was going to heal, but it felt good today. And I was grateful when I came out here. It was definitely a blessing to be back out here with my brothers, knowing this is the greatest sport that any man can play. And knowing that I'm back out here and I'm feeling good, that's all that matters right now."
Bolles stressed he wouldn't push his recovery, but Joseph said Bolles could be an option for the Broncos at left tackle as early as this weekend against Buffalo.
For now, the team will wait to see how he responds to Thursday's practice.
Joseph said he hopes Bolles' condition will improve Thursday night and that he can practice more Friday and Saturday. Joseph is aware Bolles could be sore Friday morning and suffer a setback in relation to his availability for Sunday.
After Thursday's practice, though, Joseph seemed optimistic about Bolles' recovery.
"Obviously the initial injury, we thought was more serious," Joseph said. "But he's treated [it], and he's getting better fast. He's not there yet, so we're not sure if he's going to play on Sunday, but he's getting better fast."
If so, Bolles will be back on the field with his brothers sooner than anyone thought possible.