ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --Derek Wolfe was quite straightforward about whether the injury he suffered several weeks ago in Seattle will hold him back during Thursday's season opener.
"No," he said, adding that the only thing standing in his way now will be "some offensive linemen."
Wolfe has recovered from the neck injury he suffered in the first quarter of the Broncos' preseason game against the Seahawks on Aug. 17. And, as Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio made apparent at his press conference on Monday, Wolfe's focus is now solely transfixed on stifling the Ravens' offensive attack.
"Recovered. From my standpoint, he's been cleared by the doctors and training staff," Del Rio said of Wolfe's health. "So from my standpoint, Wolfe's on the field practicing and getting ready to go Thursday night. He's full-go."
Wolfe's return is a welcomed sight for a Broncos defense that will be without linebacker Von Miller for the first six games of the season – and Wolfe was quick to point out that compensating for Miller's absence in the pass rush will require a uniformed effort from the whole defensive line.
"It's going to be all of our job, actually. We're all going to have to pick up that slack because you're losing a great player," he said. "A lot of times you're like, 'OK Von (Miller) will get there.' Now he's not going to be out there so we're all going to have to get there."
The tenacity and leadership that Wolfe brings to the field is a good start.
After registering six sacks and 40 tackles as a rookie in 2012, expectations have grown for Wolfe's ascension as a leader on defense – something that Del Rio said Wolfe expects to fulfill, and something the defensive coordinator believes he's capable of achieving.
"I think he expects to. We talked about that, the way he came in in camp, he was kind of on a mission. He had a very, very fine rookie year and wants to build on that and be even better," Del Rio said. "Look, anything is possible. I think the way he works at it, his approach, he obviously has some ability and I wouldn't count him out."
With the injury scare in Seattle behind him, Wolfe will pick up right where he left off his rookie season – taking the field against the Ravens at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
And despite the excitement surrounding the rematch, Wolfe noted that the defensive line's objective will remain the same as against any other opponent – force quarterback Joe Flacco and the Ravens into difficult third down situations.
"They play hard and their offensive line, they play to the whistle," Wolfe said. "They have a good group and obviously Flacco is a great quarterback, so we're going to have to get after him. Win on first and second down so we can get after him on third down."
"Just like any other game."