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Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe not practicing because of a neck injury

Broncos defensive line already missing key parts
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Posted at 1:29 PM, Sep 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-15 17:45:54-04

CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- Derek Wolfe sat at his locker Wednesday and pulled tape off his ankles. He labored more than normal, hurting from the season opener. Wolfe injured his neck against the Carolina Panthers, accusing Carolina's linemen of targeting him in an exclusive interview with Denver7.

He continued to feel the after effects on Thursday, watching practice during the open media viewing period with no helmet. Wolfe told Denver7 on Wednesday he "hoped" to play on Sunday, an indication of the pain he was dealing with after a game teammate Dekoda Watson called the most physical he's played in.

"(Wolfe) practiced (Wednesday), and it got a little sore on him. So we kind of protected him a little bit today. He did some walkthrough stuff," coach Gary Kubiak said. 

Hearing about fines to teammates Darian Stewart and Brandon Marshall, Wolfe wondered aloud if any of the Panthers would be docked for their actions. Guard Trai Turner was fined $9,115 for taunting after Carolina's first touchdown. Any further penalties will be announced Friday. 

Wolfe repeated Wednesday the league needs to examine the game film and see what transpired among the linemen. Wolfe's facemask was grabbed and hit repeatedly with hands to the face on initial contact and pushed into a pile. 

"It was a physical game. Hopefully we can get him to game today starting with him feeling better tomorrow," Kubiak said.

The Broncos defensive line remains a group in transition. Denver lost Malik Jackson in free agency and his replacement Vance Walker for the season due to a torn ACL during training camp. Jared Crick, who moved into a starting role, led the defensive line with 54 snaps against Carolina, followed by Sylvester Williams (48), Wolfe (47) and Billy Winn (22). Darius Kilgo and Adam Gotsis logged a combined 16 plays. If Wolfe is limited it could force Winn, a former Colt, into a bigger role. Williams is also evolving into more than a run stopper.

"I want to be out there for three downs if I can. I am working hard," Williams said.

Demaryius Thomas improves

Optics can be deceiving. But in the snapshot of practice available to the media Thursday, receiver Demaryius Thomas (left hip) showed progress. He ran his routes at full speed with sharp cuts, noticeably better than Wednesday. Thomas hurt his leg on the Broncos' third drive last Thursday when tackled awkwardly. Kubiak believes Thomas is on track to play Sunday, saying he took another step forward.

Bennie Fowler (right elbow) made catches in the normal catch radius Thursday. He has made significant improvement and hopes he can make his season debut Sunday.

Footnotes

Containing Colts star Andrew Luck represents priority one for the Broncos. Luck owns a 3-1 career record against Denver with nine passing touchdowns and two rushing scores. ... The Broncos became the first defending Super Bowl champion to win their opener after trailing by 10 points in the fourth quarter. ... Pro Football Focus graded Matt Paradis as the NFL's best center in week one. 

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