CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- Derek Wolfe grew up before our eyes.
The Broncos defensive end married, became a step father and emerged as a dominant presence in the Broncos' locker room. And that only covers this offseason. Wolfe arrived at the podium Tuesday with hair pulled back, a gnarly goatee and a jacket drenched in sweat. He had things to say. Listen up.
"Last year I didn't do enough. I didn't speak up enough," Wolfe said. "I am not letting that (bleep) slide this year."
That extends to the nuances of leadership. Wolfe continues to balance the right time to bite his tongue and go nose-to-nose. As a veteran on a highly-regarded defense, his voice resonates. How he uses it this year could help the Broncos rebound.
"With me, it's either a confrontation or a fist fight. I'm learning how to not fight people," said Wolfe who figures to have some interesting battles with physical first-round pick Garett Bolles during camp.
Wolfe ranks as a card-carrying member of the New England Patriots hater club. He respects them, but doesn't like them. They represent an arch rival with the path to the Super Bowl often going through either Denver or Foxborough. Las Vegas oddsmakers see the Patriots as a heavy favorite to repeat as Super Bowl champions. The Broncos, in most books, are viewed as an eight-to-nine win team. Such doubt fuels Wolfe and a Broncos squad that possesses an added sense of urgency following last year's disappointing finish.
"I think this team's got more heart than anybody," said Wolfe, who admitted this year's longer offseason allowed him to add 20 pounds from last year's playing weight, leaving him at 305. "And we are going to prove that this year.”
It starts with running the football and stopping the run. The Broncos were awful at both last season. Denver addressed the issue with a crew of new linemen on both sides of the ball. Domata Peko, Zach Kerr and DeMarcus Walker were added to fortify the defense. Peko insisted Tuesday he has plenty left after struggling in his final season in Cincinnati. He will play nose tackle.
"I am here to stop the run," he said. "I signed a two-year deal, so I know I've got two good years for y'all."
Peko also signed with Denver to win. He sees higher expectations than in his previous stop.
"In Cincinnati, we talked about winning a playoff game," said Peko, which the Bengals have not accomplished since Jan. 6, 1991. "Over here we talk about winning championships.