Jeff Legwold, ESPN Senior Writer 231d

Broncos will be 'really careful' with Derek Wolfe's neck injury

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Coach Vance Joseph said Thursday that the Broncos would be "really careful" with defensive end Derek Wolfe's neck injury over the past five weeks of the season.

And given that Wolfe has already said publicly this week he’s still visiting with specialists and has experienced numbness in his leg and face, the remainder of his season is certainly in doubt as he continues to search for the source of his issue. Asked after Thursday’s practice about Wolfe’s status, Joseph said: “He’s still getting tests, we’re being really careful with that type of injury."

Then asked if Wolfe had experienced numbness in his extremities, Joseph added: “I can’t speak to that ... obviously it’s a neck, it’s serious, it’s his life. We want to be smart there."

Wolfe left Sunday’s loss to the Oakland Raiders in the first quarter, but said during an appearance on KKFN-FM 104.3 The Fan earlier this week that he suffered the initial injury the week before against the Cincinnati Bengals.

“I got hit like right in the back of the head on the first play and my arm went numb on the first play against the Bengals and I was like 'Whatever, I’m just going to keep going,'" Wolfe said. “[I] ended up just going and trying to block it out but I paid for it all week last week and I had no feeling in my right hand most of the week. I had kind of a bruise on my hand so I just kept trying to make excuses because I don’t ever want to think ‘Oh, something’s going on with my neck.’ But it’s not like a disc issue or a spinal cord issue, a brain stem issue. It’s nothing like life-threatening but it’s something that this isn’t a normal stinger that’s happening."

Wolfe has previously said his experiences in 2013 would always affect his approach to any neck injury. After being carted off the field, then taken to a hospital after a collision during a preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks, Wolfe played through much of that season with neck problems, he has said.

And in December 2013, on the team’s chartered bus to the airport for a trip to Kansas City, Wolfe suffered what some teammates called a seizure and Wolfe was admitted to the hospital. He finished that season, after a brief return to the practice field, on injured reserve.

Wolfe, who suffered a severe ankle sprain in training camp and missed most of the preseason, has played 67 percent of the Broncos’ defensive snaps this season and has 31 tackles with two sacks.

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