ENGLEWOOD, Colo. –In Seattle on Aug. 17 – 10 days ago – defensive end Derek Wolfe was taken off the field in an ambulance with little sensation in his extremities.
Monday at Dove Valley he was watching from the sidelines and Tuesday he was suited up and participating in defensive line drills and full 11-on-11 action.
"It feels really good," Wolfe said Tuesday after practice. "I thought I was going to be out a little bit longer but I started better and everyday it was getting better. 'Greek' (Steve Antonopulos) did a great job staying on top of me, making sure I was in there every day just hours and hours.
"When you are stuck in that room it makes you want to get out faster so that helped to."
Wolfe wasn't exactly full speed during Tuesday's practice. The team was wearing shells and shorts instead of full pads and he noted that the altitude made him a little winded.
"I'm just trying to get my lungs used to running around and playing football again," Wolfe said. "A week doesn't seem like very much but in the football world it is."
His return to the field was depended upon the disappearance of pain and he said today that he didn't have any pain or soreness and that his range of motion in his neck was back to normal.
He said last Thursday that he had hoped to be ready for action by the season opener Sept. 5 with the Ravens. Wolfe reaffirmed that goal, barring injury during the remainder of the preseason.
While Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio said that he's glad that Wolfe was able to return to practice, he tried to make the most of Wolfe's time away from the practice field.
"I think it also gave us a great opportunity to evaluate some other guys and got them some more time and reps," Del Rio said. "So a little better evaluation there. All in all, we made it a positive. Never like to see anybody down, it's certainly a big relief that he is back and ready to roll. He'll be back at full speed in no time."
The time off also kindled a fire in Wolfe, increasing his desire to get back on the field and get back to playing football.
"It's funny how much you really don't like to practice until you can't do it anymore. And then you're just dying to get out there again," he said. "That whole time you're just thinking I could have been done for good but now that I'm not I want to get out there bad."