Injuries, SF forced Broncos' hand on Wolfe

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Denver Broncos looked at their roster, looked at the time remaining on the football calendar and decided to move defensive end Derek Wolfe to injured reserve this week.

In short, the Broncos needed help in the secondary after Chris Harris Jr. tore an ACL and they wanted to keep rookie tackle Vinston Painter.

As a result Denver no longer felt they could keep Wolfe on the active roster with uncertainty still surrounding his potential return.

“It was a decision we made that we thought was the best for the football team,’’ said Broncos head coach John Fox following Wednesday’s practice. “Those decisions are never easy. But it takes a while to get oiled up after you’ve been away, even if you’re healthy.’’

Wolfe had practiced just twice since suffering seizure-like symptoms Nov. 29. The Broncos had hoped Wolfe would be able to practice and play at some point in the postseason, but with Harris Jr.’s injury and the fact the San Francisco 49ers were interested in signing Painter -- teams can sign players off any other team’s practice squad if the player is signed to the 53-man roster -- the Broncos moved Wolfe to IR, ending his season.

The Broncos believe he will participate normally in the team’s offseason programs, including organized team activities and minicamps.

The Broncos also added former New England Patriots and New York Jets cornerback Marquice Cole to the roster on Tuesday. Safety Rahim Moore, who went to injured reserve Nov. 19, but as designated to return, has been eligible to practice since last week, but has not yet participated and was not on the field Wednesday. Fox called Moore “day-to-day,’’ and said Moore would practice as soon as he was cleared by the team’s medical staff.

Overall, however, the Broncos remain as healthy a team as they can be after playing 17 games. All of their players took part in Wednesday’s practice in preparation for Sunday’s AFC Championship Game.

The only player who was limited was safety Mike Adams, who has a thigh bruise.