ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Denver Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe is expected to miss the remainder of the season after he dislocated his left elbow Sunday in the closing minutes of the Broncos’ 23-20 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers.
Wolfe suffered the injury with 2 minutes, 22 seconds remaining in the game, on a play that was blown dead because of a false start by Chargers guard Dan Feeney. Broncos defensive tackle Mike Purcell collided with Wolfe as the two moved just after the snap to defend a Chargers running play on a fourth-and-1.
Wolfe, who had two sacks in the game, leads the Broncos with seven sacks.
“Right now, it’s not official, but I don’t know if he’ll be able to play again this year,” said Broncos coach Vic Fangio. “I don’t think it needs surgery, but he did dislocate his elbow. The time involved with that healing and where we are in the season probably precludes him from playing any more.”
Asked whether Wolfe was headed to injured reserve in the coming days, Fangio said: “That’s a good possibility.”
With Bradley Chubb already on injured reserve — he tore his ACL in Week 4 against the Jacksonville Jaguars — and Von Miller dealing with a left knee injury, it’s possible the Broncos will face the Houston Texans and quarterback Deshaun Watson this Sunday without the team’s three top pass-rushers. Miller, who injured his knee in the loss to the Buffalo Bills, did not play in the win over the Chargers.
It was the first time Miller had missed a game since 2013, when he suffered a torn ACL in the second-to-last game of the regular season and then missed the regular-season finale and the Broncos’ three playoff games, including Super Bowl XLVIII.
Miller, wearing a brace on his left knee, went through a workout before Sunday’s game with Denver head trainer Vince Garcia looking on, and the decision was made to keep Miller out of the lineup against the Chargers. As far as whether Miller would play this week against the Texans, Fangio said this Monday: “I do think there is a good chance he will be able to go this week.”
For 29-year-old Wolfe, the injury comes as he is having what might be his best overall season in his eighth year with the team. He has called the Fangio’s defensive scheme “perfect for what I can do,” as he had all seven of his sacks over the past seven games, with two-sack games against the Titans, Colts and Chargers.
“I feel like he’s a bit more healthy this year. … He’s just a beast. This defense is perfect for Derek Wolfe and everything he’s doing,” Miller said recently.
DeMarcus Walker will likely get most of the snaps in the defensive sets Wolfe has played. With Chubb already on injured reserve, two cornerbacks on injured reserve (Bryce Callahan and De’Vante Bausby) and Wolfe headed to injured reserve, the Broncos are still the league’s No. 10 scoring defense.
“[Wolfe] was where he was supposed to be, with the right mindset, and he played physical,” Fangio said. ” … I think he had a career high in sacks, which for a guy at this stage in his career speaks to his resiliency and the work that he’s put in and the effort that he was playing with.”