The Denver Broncos have ruled out defensive end Derek Wolfe for their week 17 matchup against the Oakland Raiders, thinning the group on the D-line…
The Denver Broncos are as banged up as any team in the league this year (perhaps not the Chicago Bears, who are on another level of banged up) and they will be without star defensive end Derek Wolfe for the season finale against the Oakland Raiders.
It’s not a shock, as Wolfe has battled through a number of injuries this season, but the Broncos don’t need to risk further injury to one of their best defenders heading into the offseason.
Wolfe is unquestionably the Broncos’ best defensive lineman at this point, and finished this season with 5.5 sacks and four passes batted at the line of scrimmage. He’s a great anchor in the running game and does a great job of applying pressure from his left defensive end position.
With Wolfe out of the lineup, the Broncos are going to have to rely on a combination of Billy Winn and Adam Gotsis at defensive end opposite Jared Crick.
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Winn has played in all 15 games for the Broncos so far this season, and has recorded 18 tackles. Gotsis was the team’s second round draft choice out of Georgia Tech, and has played like a rookie this season.
While inconsistent, Gotsis has a ton of natural ability and will be a big part of the Broncos’ future plans defensively.
Back in November, Derek Wolfe told the Denver media that Gotsis has been following him around all year, comparing him to a puppy. He said Gotsis would watch what Wolfe was eating, and that he could ‘feel’ him watching.
It might sound a bit creepy, but Gotsis knows that in this league, you have to emulate the best to be the best and so picking up on the work habits of Derek Wolfe isn’t the worst thing he could be doing.
Now, he’ll have a chance — like a number of Broncos rookies and young players — to prove he belongs in this league with perhaps his most extensive playing time of the season against a very good Oakland offensive line.
It’s been a steep learning curve for Gotsis this year, but it’s been a great learning experience for so many young Broncos and he’s got a chance to show he belongs on Sunday afternoon.