WOLFE SAYS HE HATES, RE­SPECTS THE PA­TRI­OTS

The Denver Post - - OFF & RUNNING - Nicki Jhab­vala, The Den­ver Post

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.

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