De­fen­sive end Derek Wolfe goes down in prac­tice with a sprained an­kle, an in­jury less se­vere than what it orig­i­nally ap­peared.

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Nicki Jhab­vala

About 36 hours af­ter they lost de­fen­sive end Billy Winn to a sea­son-end­ing knee in­jury, the Bron­cos re­ceived a scare when Derek Wolfe went down in prac­tice Sat­ur­day with a se­ri­ous an­kle sprain.

The sixth-year vet­eran was carted off the field af­ter get­ting caught up in a pile with of­fen­sive tackle Mene­lik Wat­son in 11on-11 drills early in the work­out. Wolfe was vis­i­bly up­set by the in­jury and didn’t put any weight on his right leg as he hob­bled back to the locker room with the help of train­ers. Test­ing re­vealed the in­jury was less se­vere than the Bron­cos had feared and Wolfe said he ex­pects to be ready for Week 1 of the reg­u­lar sea­son.

“Ap­pre­ci­ate the love,” he tweeted Sat­ur­day af­ter­noon. “Dodged a bul­let.”

He later posted a photo of his bal­looned an­kle and added: “Just a lit­tle swelling.”

Although Wolfe will miss prac­tice time and pre­sea­son reps, the Bron­cos avoided a tremen­dous blow to their al­ready de­pleted de­fense.

In their pre­sea­son opener at Chicago on Thurs­day, Winn tore his ACL and suf­fered dam­age to other lig­a­ments in his right knee.

The team placed him on in­jured re­serve Sat­ur­day morn­ing and signed un­drafted rookie Nel­son Adams, a 6-foot-3, 287pound line­man who was re­leased from the Steel­ers last week af­ter com­pet­ing in their train­ing camp.

“Any­time you lose a guy like Winn, who has played re­ally, re­ally well for us, that’s a con­cern, ab­so­lutely,” Joseph said. “But we have guys be­hind him who have to step up. But you lose guys, that’s a con­cern.”

Winn was the No. 2 nose tackle on the Bron­cos’ depth chart be­hind vet­eran Do­mata Peko. Sit­ting at No. 3 is Kyle Peko, who in­jured his foot in June and has been on the phys­i­cally un­able to per­form list. Peko can come off PUP at any point, but the call is de­pen­dent on his health.

“Kyle had X-rays (Sun­day) and it was pretty good, so he’s heal­ing fast,” Joseph said. “But un­til he’s healthy, we won’t know that.”

While Winn was lost for the sea­son, out­side lineback­ers Shane Ray (wrist) and Shaquil Bar­rett (hip) will miss the en­tirety of pre­sea­son to re­cover from in­juries. Both are pro­jected to re­turn within the first few weeks of the reg­u­lar sea­son.

“Ev­ery­thing is heal­ing fine,” Ray told The Den­ver Post on Fri­day. “The doc­tor says my hand is heal­ing well. My stitches, when they came out the scars looked good, so I’m just ex­cited. I look at it as they gave me four ex­tra weeks to train.”

The Bron­cos signed vet­eran Zach Kerr in free agency to spell Wolfe at de­fen­sive end and he, along with sec­ond-year player Adam Got­sis, will likely see more time in pre­sea­son as Wolfe re­cov­ers.

“I’m wher­ever they want me to play,” Kerr said. “I went into the game as the sec­ond end and then played the ma­jor­ity of snaps at nose when Billy went down. I’m cool with be­ing a gad­get man.”

Nicki Jhab­vala: njhab­vala@den­ver­post.com or @Nick­i­jhab­vala

Andy Cross, The Den­ver Post

Bron­cos de­fen­sive end Derek Wolfe should still be ready by Week 1 af­ter suf­fer­ing an an­kle sprain.

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