WOLFE SAYS HE HATES, RESPECTS THE PATRIOTS
Two days before the Broncos hosted the Steelers in their AFC divisional playoff game, defensive end Derek Wolfe signed a four-year contract extension — a reward he said put his mind at ease on the field last weekend.
“It was like a freeing feeling,” Wolfe said. “For the first time in a long time, I felt like I had a little bit of freedom to go out there and just play. I didn’t have to worry about anything else.”
But it has done little to temper his feelings toward the Patriots, a team he often has said he dislikes. The Broncos will face them Sunday in the AFC championship game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
“I hate everything about them,” he said. “They’re always in my way. They’re always in my way to get what I want.
“I’ve got a ton of respect for the whole organization. They’ve got great players — Tom Brady’s a great player. Bill Belichick’s a great coach. I’ve got a ton of respect for them. I just hate them.”
Harris plans to play. Chris Harris was limited because of a shoulder injury the past two games. But the cornerback, and every other player on the Broncos’ roster, is listed as probable to play Sunday.
“Everything I’ve seen this week in practice tells me Chris is fine to go,” coach Gary Kubiak said. “With every player, you’re watching them, but he’s had a really good week. I think he’s doing a lot better than he did going into last week’s game.”
Cornerback Bradley Roby was limited in practice Friday because of a quadriceps injury, but Kubiak said he will be ready to play Sunday.
The Patriots, meanwhile, listed 16 players as questionable to play, including tight end Rob Gronkowski (knee and back) and wide receivers Danny Amendola (knee) and Julian Edelman (foot).
Honorary captains. Terrell Davis, John Lynch and Steve Atwater, the three Denver finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s induction Class of 2016, will serve as honorary captains for the AFC championship game.
The new Hall of Famers will be selected Feb. 6, the day before Super Bowl 50.
O-line update. Veteran guard Evan Mathis played all 74 of the Broncos’ offensive snaps last weekend against Pittsburgh because rookie Max Garcia suffered a groin injury, Kubiak said. Mathis will start again against New England, but Kubiak said Garcia will be available.
“He’s feeling better than he did last week,” Kubiak said.
Right ref. Ed Hochuli will be the referee for the AFC championship game, which should be welcome news for Broncos fans.
Since 1999, the Broncos are 6-1 (4-0 in Denver) and the Patriots are 10-9 (5-6 on the road) in games Hochuli has refereed, according to Pro Football Reference.